Knicks considering no-frills point guard plan with Cam Payne

With the Suns likely to make Chris Paul a three-year, $90-plus million offer that will keep him in Phoenix, the Knicks may be in line to snare his backup .

With the Suns likely to make Chris Paul a three-year, $90-plus million offer that will keep him in Phoenix, the Knicks may be in line to snare his backup – young lefty free agent Cam Payne.

The Knicks have considered a no-frills point-guard scenario with Payne and Derrick Rose splitting minutes in 2021-22.

It’s not Plan A, B or perhaps even C, but it’s not bad, either, especially if the Knicks can’t land a star like Paul, Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball.

Miami is emerging as a favorite to land Lowry in a sign-and-trade while Ball is ready to sign with the Bulls with free agency beginning Monday evening, according to a source.

Rose is also a free agent and the Knicks – particularly head coach Tom Thibodeau — want him back after his solid 2020-21 campaign.

But the Knicks, who have the most projected cap space at $52.6 million according to Spotrac, are wary of giving Rose a long-term deal. They still have their eyes on the stacked 2022 free-agent class headed by Bradley Beal.

The Knicks were 11-14 when they acquired Rose from Detroit in early February and 24-11 in the 35 games the veteran played, as he formed a solid tandem with rookie Immanuel Quickley and improved his 3-point shooting.

In 50 total games, including 15 with Detroit, Rose shot 38.8 percent from 3.

Cam Payne
NBAE via Getty Images

Rose couldn’t say whether he would return after the Knicks were eliminated by the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs.

“They got big plans,’’ Rose said. “Who knows if I may be back.”

But he just might be, alongside Payne, who has never started in his late-blooming career but weaved a bust-out season as Paul’s caddie into the NBA Finals.

The Knicks don’t want Rose to play starter’s minutes because of his past knee issues, and so the idea would be for the him and Payne to split time.

Payne helped lead the Suns to two wins in the Western Conference Finals against the Clippers when Paul was out with COVID-19.

Payne is a slick, speedy penetrator and has improved his long-range game. Payne was drafted by the Thunder 14th-overall in the 2016 draft and is on his fourth NBA team, in addition to a stint in China.

Derrick Rose’s improved second go-round with the Knicks goes deeper than his statistics.
Getty Images

Payne, who turns 27 on Aug. 8, has finally emerged as a bona fide NBA player and league sources thought he could get a deal starting at $10-$12 million. The Knicks can offer him a balloon payment in his first year – like they did for Bobby Portis in 2019 ($15 million) – with a second-year team option.

Payne averaged 8.4 points last season, shot 44.3 percent from 3-point land and 89 percent from the free-throw line.

Suns GM James Jones said Friday on Payne he’d like to keep him.

“As far as being a team member, the way he played this year was phenomenal,” Jones said. “I couldn’t be happier for Cam. I know the team — we all enjoyed his success. He’s a kid that has played his way back into a position … which is a really good, quality, rotation NBA player.’’

The Knicks also have the recently drafted, tough-as-nails point guard Miles McBride, who could also be ready for the rotation because of his dogged defense and 3-point shooting.

Signing Payne would leave the Knicks room to sign two other players of note, potentially wing scorer Evan Fournier and Kelly Oubre Jr., and perhaps make an attempt to bring back center Nerlens Noel.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman

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