Chris Paul could get his max deal in New York… just don’t bet on it

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Chris Paul wants to go to the Knicks. Chris Paul also would like a massive payday of a bird-rights extension — five years and $100 million.

But he can’t get those two things the way Carmelo Anthony did, the new collective bargaining agreement takes that away. The Hornets could (in theory) do a sign-and-trade with the Knicks, but then the max-deal CP3 could receive would be the same as if the Knicks signed him as a free agent (four years, $74 million).

But there is a path to Paul being on the Knicks with a $100 million max deal.

Just don’t bet on it happening.

It’s three steps laid out by Zach Lowe at Sports Illustrated. The first step is where this process dies in the real world:

Force the Hornets to trade him to the Knicks without signing a contract extension in the process. This is the tricky part. The Hornets don’t have to trade Paul, and if they decide to, they don’t have to trade him to New York. Other teams have better assets, and Paul will be counting on those teams to bow out of the bidding if they think he will not re-sign there. Does this sound familiar?

The Hornets are not going to trade Chris Paul to the Knicks. First because the Knicks do not have the assets (picks and young players) needed as they sent them all to Denver to get Carmelo Anthony. (New York could, in theory, bring in a third and maybe fourth team to get the assets needed, but those are complex deals to pull off.)

The other thing is that the league owns the Hornets right now — after an entire lockout where David Stern preached “competitive balance” there is no way the league is going to sign off on trading a superstar to complete a trio in New York. The other owners would not tolerate it.

If Paul were somehow able to get traded to the Knicks the path to the max deal is really pretty simple, if a bit risky for the team.

If the Hornets eventually surrender and deal him to New York, Paul’s Bird Rights go with him. He must then become a free agent, either by declining his player option for 2012-13, or accepting that option, playing that season and becoming a free agent in the summer of 2013. By entering free agency as a Knick, Paul would escape the limitations in years and money that would come with engaging in a Carmelo-type extend-and-trade deal under this new collective bargaining agreement.

The last step is easy: Sign a five-year, $100 million extension with New York. The Knicks would have his Bird Rights, so they could exceed the cap as much as they wish to retain Paul.

Some player down the line is going to follow this pattern to get his max deal. Teams prefer the certainty of a sign-and-trade but if you trust the player doesn’t walk when he becomes a free agent this is doable. It is sort of what Deron Williams is doing now with the Nets — he may re-sign there but he wants to become a free agent to get the bigger payday.

But not Chris Paul. If he goes to the Knicks it will be as a free agent next summer.