Game Changer: The Idea of Chris Paul Makes the Knicks an Intangible Success

This was supposed to be a transformative summer for the New York Knicks. After years of rotten basketball , mismanagement , and scandal , they had cleared room on their payroll to get LeBron James—a great player for a great franchise in a great city. The Knicks had even added Amar’e Stoudemire , to give James another star to play with. How could LeBron say no?

“I am taking my talents to South Beach” was how he said it.

So while Miami assembled a superteam, the Knicks got only Stoudemire, who will cost them nearly $100 million and whose medical chart is so thick that no insurance company was willing to cover him if he played for Team USA this summer.

But this week, Chris Paul, the disgruntled All-NBA point guard for the New Orleans Hornets, let it be known that he was interested in being traded to the Knicks. Star power after all! The only drawbacks: Paul has no power to force a trade, let alone say where he would go; the Knicks have no players the Hornets would want to trade for; and the Hornets’ owners don’t want to trade Paul.

Even so, the New York Times reports, this imaginary trade is exactly what the Knicks need :

By naming the Knicks, even privately, Paul has validated their rebuilding effort and their hope of becoming a desirable destination for star players. For most of the last decade, the Knicks were regarded as more dysfunctional and hopeless than the Hornets are now.

But the recent signing of Amar’e Stoudemire has changed perceptions and given every N.B.A. star a reason to take notice.

Yes, the Miami Heat has two of the three best players in the league, and a third All-Star to caddy for them. The Lakers have won back-to-back championships. The Celtics have been to the Finals twice in the last three years. But the Knicks have validation of their new narrative! They have created the perception of desirability. If Politico ever wants to cover basketball, now it has the perfect team.