NBA

There’s a Second Motive for Chris Paul’s Tribute to Spike Lee

Chris Paul isn’t buying what the New York Knicks apparently tried selling to their fans this week. The veteran NBA point guard said as much with his tribute to a friend during Friday’s game after expressing a strong opinion beforehand.

It amounts to one more kick in the teeth for a team in the running for the title of the most dysfunctional organization in sports.

Chris Paul pays tribute to Spike Lee

The Oklahoma City Thunder coasted to a 126-103 victory against the New York Knicks on Friday at Madison Square Garden behind 22 points from Danilo Gallinari and 21 by Chris Paul, who added 12 assists.

Make that 13 assists if you count Paul standing by fans who want to see filmmaker Spike Lee return to Madison Square Garden, where he’s been a longtime fan of the Knicks and the NBA. Lee was involved in a squabble with the Knicks earlier in the week and vowed to not return to their games for the rest of the season.

Paul wrote “Do The Right Thing” on the sneakers he wore in the game, a play on the name of one of the director’s movies, and said afterward he had been looking forward to the game for awhile to renew acquaintances with Lee.

He also said that he saw through speculation this week about his own future and all but accused the Knicks of planting the story.

Did the New York Knicks float a rumor?

The loss to Oklahoma City dropped the Knicks’ record to 19-44 and was punctuated by the chants of “Sell the team” that have echoed across Madison Square Garden this season. The Knicks tried to drown the chant during the latest loss by playing music – even during free-throw attempts.

The season has been another disaster for the Knicks, who on their way to missing the playoffs for the seventh straight season. They had already fired coach David Fizdale and team president Steve Mills in separate moves and more recently sent security into the stands to confront fans taunting owner James Dolan with the “Sell the team” chants.

Curiously, published reports this week said that the Knicks have been gathering information on Chris Paul, the 15-year pro and 10-time NBA All-Star who is enjoying his best year since 2014-15 when he played all 82 games and led the league in assists per game for the fourth time.

The implication was that the Knicks might take a run at acquiring Paul this summer, but the logic is disputable. The Knicks are about to embark upon another rebuilding process with a new director of basketball operations. And while Paul might lend stability to the Knicks during that process, he has $85.5 million over two years left on his contract and will turn 35 in May.

Chris Paul going to the Knicks doesn’t seem logical

If the New York Knicks are going to rebuild, the $85.5 million would be better spent on younger talents who could still play a significant role when the team – in theory – is ready to contend in the playoffs in 2023 and beyond.

The PR-conscious team would seemingly also be wary of trying to lure a star who is friendly with both Spike Lee and former Knick Charles Oakley, who has been involved in highly publicized disputes with owner James Dolan.

Even Chris Paul is skeptical about reports that would have him reuniting with the Knicks’ new boss. Leon Rose had been Paul’s agent until formally taking over as the team president last week.

“They’re trying to take attention away from that Spike Lee stuff,” Paul told a league employee before the game in an exchange caught by a TV camera.