Can the Knicks pull off a ‘Super Friends’ of their own?

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 13: NBA players Carmello Anthony (L) and Chris Paul attend the 23/25 Energy Space presented by Jordan Brand in Dallas, Texas on Februrary 13, 2010. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Jordan Brand)

Chris Paul apparently would like to get in on some of this ‘Big 3’ action and reportedly said as much in a speech at Carmelo Anthony’s recent wedding.

According to a person who spoke with wedding attendee Amar’e Stoudemire, Paul made the reference during a speech of a potential union of himself, Stoudemire and Anthony, saying, “We’ll form our own Big 3,” Paul allegedly said.

So how do the Knicks pull that off? Barring an unexpected trade, a few things would have to happen…

1. Carmelo Anthony can’t sign an extension with the Nuggets.
There is an offer on the table extending Anthony for three years and $64 million. Most people think that with a new collective bargaining agreement looming, he’d be nuts not to take the guaranteed money. But if winning is truly the most important thing, and he sees a future with the Knicks, he would let his current contract expire and become a free agent next summer.

2. ‘Melo signs a max or near-max deal with the Knicks.
Assuming Ray Felton makes about $8 million and Stoudemire makes around $19 million for the 2011-12 season, the Knicks would be on the hook — barring any new contracts — for around $44 million heading into that season. Assuming the salary cap jumps $2 million to $60 million, the Knicks would have around $16 million in cap space. That would be enough to sign Anthony, assuming he’d be willing to take a bit of a cut.

3. Chris Paul opts out of his contract and signs a max or near-max deal with the Knicks.
Depending on what the Knicks do with Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph and Toney Douglas, they project to be on the hook for $32 million plus Melo’s deal ($16 million), or $48 million total. Assuming the cap jumps another $2 million, the Knicks would have about $14 million in cap space (or as much as $26 million depending on Gallinari, Randolph and Douglas).

Is it probable? No. Is it feasible? It looks like it.

One hangup might be the fact that Stoudemire’s contract is so large (five years, $100 million) that the Knicks won’t be able to afford to pay anyone else that much, so Anthony and Paul would have to agree to play for less when they are both arguably better players. Also, if the salary cap doesn’t rise at least two million a season, there won’t be enough room to sign both players without slashing salary elsewhere, and the Knicks appear to want to hold onto Gallinari, Randolph and Douglas. Lastly, a new collective bargaining agreement could radically change the salary cap and how free agency works.

Now that Knicks fans know that they aren’t going to get LeBron, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, they can start looking forward to the Summer of Melo and the Summer of CP3.

Imagine an Eastern Conference Finals with the Heat (Wade, LeBron, Bosh) and Knicks (Melo, CP3, Amare) battling it out. As we learned last week, anything is possible.

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