Knicks 'zzone

Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.

New CBA provision could keep CP3-Knicks alive

Chris Paul was thought to be lost forever, gone to the Lakers, to a team he would almost assuredly re-sign with in the summer for his maximum Bird Rights salary. But then the NBA stepped in and Paul remained with the league-run New Orleans Hornets, which kept Paul on the market and kept the possibility alive that he might stay on the market until free agency next summer.

So how do the Knicks, who are on the verge of signing center Tyson Chandler to a contract that will eat up much, if not all, of their available salary cap space in 2012, still have a shot at landing CP3?

By working with Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and, perhaps, Chandler to restructure their contracts through a provision included in the new collective bargaining agreement, which was ratified and approved on Thursday.

According to a memo from NBPA executive director Billy Hunter, which was obtained by ESPN.com, "players may engage in renegotiation and extension, but the players' salary cannot decline by more than 40 percent."

It's a longshot, and details and rules are still vague, but if all three players are permitted to restructure their deals and Paul agreed to take slightly less than his maximum salary as a free agent, the opportunity is there for all four to be in a Knicks uniform for the 2012-13 season. Two of the three Knicks, Carmelo and Tyson, are close friends with Paul. Would it be worth it to them to make this happen?

Right now, the Knicks would pretty much be capped out for 2012, when you factor in the big frontline -- it needs a nickname, by the way -- and also include Iman Shumpert's rookie scale and re-signing Toney Douglas and Landry Fields.

That would permit the Knicks to use the Mid-Level Exception next year and if they don't find a solution at point guard this year and my "Renegotiate for Chris" campaign doesn't stir the masses, you can expect free agent-to-be Steve Nash will be very high on the list. Another potential target? Old friend Raymond Felton.

If the Knicks use amnesty on Chauncey Billups to clear space to sign Chandler, they will lose their full MLE this year. That's what makes moving both Billups and other contracts, such as Ronny Turiaf ($4.35M) and perhaps even Renaldo Balkman ($1.675M...trade with cash for a second round pick), will open up a little room to add a point guard on the open market. Would J.J. Barea come at a fair pricet? Mario Chalmers?

Baron Davis is expected to be an amnesty waiver by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but if he cleared waivers and could sign with the Knicks, would he be in the type of condition needed to play an uptempo system in the exhausting schedule that awaits in this 66-game season?

Camp opens Friday at 3 p.m. and yet the roster remains very unsettled. It may be a few days before we see exactly what this Knicks team will be when the ball goes up on Christmas Day.

Tags: NBA , Knicks , Chris Paul , Tyson Chandler , Carmelo Anthony , Amar'e Stoudemire , Iman Shumpert , Toney Douglas , Chauncey Billups , Ronny Turiaf , Baron Davis , Mario Chalmers , J.J. Barea , Raymond Felton , Steve Nash

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