Just over two years ago, after yet another disappointing season, fans of the New York Knicks were given some hope for the future, when it was reported by the New York Post that Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul planned to make a "big three" in the Big Apple.
Fast-forward two years, and the first two have finally made it to their destination, while CP3 stays stranded in Los Angeles with the Clippers.
Seemingly in place of Paul, the Knicks signed his former teammate, Tyson Chandler, last December, which—due to the salary cap—has made it all but impossible for Paul to make it to New York.
But last month, Knicks fans were once again given a glimmer of hope that the All-Star point guard could eventually end up in New York, when he rejected an extension with the Clippers and told the New York Daily News that he wanted to play out the season and then see what his options are.
What really sparked things, though, is that Melo then reportedly told Jared Zwerling that "you'll see him in NY in a couple of years."
Of course, Paul's rejection of the extension could just be him looking for more money from the Clippers next offseason, but considering his interest in joining the Knicks beforehand, there is still a chance he could get his wish—albeit a very small one.
If they want him here by next season, the Knicks have two options—both of which are dependent on outside influences—which are to look to trade for him at this year's deadline, or to go after him in free agency with a sign-and-trade deal.
First, we'll deal with a trade at this year's deadline.
In order for Paul to be traded to the Knicks this year, first and foremost he has to sacrifice his image by coming out and saying that he will only sign an extension with the Knicks.
Doing so will deter other teams from offering better packages than the ones the Knicks have to offer the Clippers, which would, in a way, force their hand and make them trade him to New York.
Now, there are still teams out there who would give up a lot more than the Knicks have to offer regardless of whether or not CP3 says he'll sign an extension for them, so that won't necessarily solve things.
When it comes to trading for Paul, the only player the Knicks won't consider trading is Melo, who is the player who most wanted to team up with CP3 in the first place.
In order to bring back the $17.7 million salary of Paul, the Knicks would probably have to send the Clippers a package based around Amar'e Stoudemire or Tyson Chandler.
Trading Stoudemire would be ideal for the Knicks, as he has a much larger salary than Chandler, but unless he starts to dominate again next season, there's no way the Clippers would accept an offer centered around him.
In fact, even if he does return to form, the Clippers would be more than hesitant to pull the trigger, considering they already have an elite power forward in Blake Griffin.
That would make trading away Tyson Chandler the Knicks only viable option, a move which they themselves should be reluctant to make. Chandler is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and the Knicks' emotional leader, and letting him go would leave a gaping hole in the middle.
Signing Marcus Camby—who started as recently as last season—this offseason was a move that could help them, as Camby could still be a starter in the NBA.
Along with Chandler—who has a salary of $13.6 million—the Knicks would also need to send another $4.1 million in salary to the Clippers, as well as any draft picks they have left over the next few years.
Without Paul, the Clippers would need a point guard, and if Raymond Felton has a comeback season in 2012-13, sending him away with his $3.5 million, along with another player could get the job done.
To get the salaries to match the Knicks would prefer to send away a player like Ronnie Brewer or Chris Copeland, but the likelihood is that the Clippers would prefer someone like J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert, both of whom are on very cap-friendly deals.
To summarize, bringing Paul to New York at the deadline would mean sending away Chandler, Felton, Smith/Shumpert and draft picks, and likely bringing back another lesser player from the Clippers.
In order to avoid losing him in free agency next summer, the Knicks would have to make the trade an "extend-and-trade," whereby Paul signs his extension with the Clippers as he is traded, leaving him in New York long-term.
Trading for Paul next offseason would stop the extend-and-trade from being an option for the Knicks, as the deadline for signing an extension is June 30—the day before free agency begins.
A sign-and-trade would have to be performed, but this would cause more problems in terms of salary, as Paul would be looking for something more than that $17.7 million mark.
The 2013 offseason would be the Knicks' last chance to bring Paul to New York before Anthony is off the books, as after 2013-14, teams above the luxury tax "apron" (like the Knicks) will not be allowed to make sign-and-trades.
In this situation, the Knicks would have to trade away a similar package, likely with a few more players added to get the salary up to the amount Paul will want for the 2013-14 season.
Ultimately, getting CP3 to New York is highly unlikely,but the fact that he wants to team up with Melo means that there will always be at least a small chance of it happening.
If the 2013-14 season comes without the arrival of Paul, don't be surprised if he signs an extension with the Clippers ending in 2015, the year in which almost every player the Knicks have comes off the books.
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