If the Knicks attempt to outbid the Suns for point guard Chris Paul this August, they are at a distinct disadvantage.
According to former Nets executive and ESPN cap guru Bobby Marks, the Suns can offer Paul a four-year deal while the Knicks can’t go past three years because of an obscure “over-38’’ bylaw in the collective bargaining agreement.
Marks predicts the Suns will net Paul with a three-year, $100 million contract if the veteran decides to opt out of the $44 million final season of his current deal.
If Leon Rose’s Knicks attempt to match the offer, the Suns can add a fourth year.
“I don’t think they will let him go,’’ Marks said of Phoenix.
It was unthinkable Paul would consider opting out of the final season when the 2020-21 campaign began. But after leading the Suns to their first NBA Finals berth since 1993, Paul is reportedly leaning that way.
Paul turned 36 in May, but played one of his best, healthiest seasons of his career. He scored 41 points with eight assists in the Suns’ Western Conference clincher over his former team, the Clippers.
When Rose took over the Knicks in March 2020, his top priority was executing a trade with the Thunder for his former client, Paul.
Paul preferred to go to Phoenix, and Oklahoma City obliged. The Post reported Paul wanted to be closer to his son, who lives in Los Angeles. Paul is on record stating playing for the Knicks, in an empty Garden during the pandemic, wasn’t appealing.
Next season figures to be back to packed houses. Meanwhile, the Knicks have gone from league laughingstock to a 41-31 Eastern Conference playoff team. The Knicks should be in the mix — although they ultimately may do nothing more than up Paul’s price in Phoenix.
“If Paul wins it this year and then goes to New York and helps them get to the Finals, he’s clearly on all the lists of top-5 point guard of all time,’’ one NBA coaching source said. “After not winning and then ending it with two straight titles, it’s a Mount Rushmore situation. Phoenix doesn’t make the playoffs if Chris is not there.’’
Many league sources believe the Knicks have now become a free-agent destination — which they were not when Paul decided on the Suns last November.
Former Knicks assistant coach Mike Woodson, who left the club in March to coach at his alma mater, Indiana University, agreed the image has changed.
“After the season they had, it’s wide open for the Knicks,’’ Woodson said. “New York is New York. It doesn’t get much better than winning in New York. Guys watch other guys. The Knicks fell off a bit after I left as head coach [in 2014]. Free agents were looking other places. They didn’t flock there. It’s changed. It’s flipped again.’’
Tom Thibodeau won Coach of the Year over the Suns’ Monty Williams in a razor-close decision. But even after Thibodeau was hired, the Knicks didn’t attract players last November.
“We hadn’t done s–t yet,’’ Woodson said. “We hadn’t done well in years. Tom was rewarded for his incredible job and it can help with free agents.’’
Team Canada, led by Knicks swingman RJ Barrett, faced the Czech Republic in the Olympic qualifying semifinals Saturday in Victoria, British Columbia. Canada would need to win that game and Sunday’s final to advance to Tokyo. Barrett scored 22 points and 16 points in the first two wins over Greece and China, respectively.
In a reminder the pandemic is not over, Team Senegal had to withdraw from its Olympic qualifying tournament in Belgrade because of a COVID-19 outbreak on the team. Senegal’s GM is Knicks scout Makhtar N’Diaye.
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