16 months and 1 day ago, in the aftermath of The Decision (and in my very first piece for this website), I considered the possibility of the Knicks forming their own Big 3. At that time the Knicks had only signed Mr. Stoudemire. However, then as now there seemed an air of inevitability that Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul would both decide to come to the Big Apple.
As the 2011-2012 season begins, the Knicks are halfway to that dream. Chris Paul will be the dominant subject of speculation this season, and early reports seem to indicate that experts will remain amusingly divided on the inevitability of his joining the Knicks until the day it occurs. Chris Broussard broke that Paul’s first choice was far-and-away the Knicks. (Hooray!) Then John Hollinger suggested that Paul was unlikely to join the Knicks, due to limited cap space. (Bah!) Then Frank Isola tweeted that Melo had a big grin on his face during a media session with Paul at his charity. And soon I will report that I saw Melo and CP3 playing hopscotch together. You get the picture.
Cutting through the multitude of opinions on the subject, I wonder what could possibly make people doubt that Paul will sign here next year. I have no inside connection to someone in Paul’s camp. I have two rather circumstantial pieces of evidence which make me think Paul will sign: that he’s been BFF with ‘Melo all summer, and that Broussard said he wants to come here. But really, havn’t the past two years proven without a doubt that star players will play where they want to play? The Melo-Bosh-Amar’e-LeBron-Wade-Paul group all wanted to play basketball with their friends in the city of their choosing. Five of the six have made that a reality.
Now, to the extent that Paul might like playing somewhere else (Broussard says he’s open to the Clippers), he might join one of those teams. But the reason will be the same: because he wants to, and not because of relatively minor financial considerations. While Professor Hollinger does some good work demonstrating how the Knicks’ offer will be smaller than a Hornets’ extension, I can’t help but feel that it just doesn’t matter. Jordan Brand guys all know the marketing power that being in this city gives an athlete. Prospective PG’s gotta buy shoes too, and New York is the stage where Paul could increase the value of his brand. It just seems preordained when you throw in the combination of his friendship with Carmelo and the opportunity to run Mike d’Antoni’s offense (or the opportunity to figure out how to make a point guard relevant in the triangle…perhaps you’ve heard of this fellow Phil Jackson? Nevermind.)
Personally, I plan on tuning out most of the chit-chat about Paul, except when it confirms my pre-existing belief that he will sign as a Knick in the summer of 2012. As the season progresses, perhaps it will become time to analyze how Paul will neutralize Melo’s bad shot selection, or wonder about how devastating the CP3/Amar’e pick and roll will be. Some may say that I am reacting as a typical New Yorker, always suspecting that a particular player will want to join my team. To them I reply, how cool is that Knicks #3 jersey going to look? Sun’s gotta rise, Earth’s gotta turn, and Chris Paul will be a Knick. (I hope.)