The Garden is “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” but minus New York’s boisterous basketball-mad fans, it could be just a cold, empty arena in winter.
That’s one factor in Chris Paul not making the Knicks a priority for him when the Oklahoma City Thunder shopped him around the NBA, according to his former Clippers teammate Matt Barnes.
CP3 visited Barnes’ home last Saturday for his twins’ birthday party. (Barnes’ adversary Derek Fisher was not invited). The Post previously reported Paul was mixed about the Knicks. On Monday, Phoenix executed a trade for Paul to bring him to the Valley of the Sun.
“We were discussing like, hey, where are you going to go?,” Barnes said on Sirius XM NBA radio Tuesday. “And he was saying the Knicks were an option but, you know, if he was going to New York he wanted the full Knick experience, meaning he wanted the fans, he wanted the essence, he wanted the ambiance of that Madison Square Garden crowd. And going there now, we don’t know if that crowd will ever be back.”
Indeed, the Garden is under state orders disallowing fans from indoor sporting events. A report stated only 5-to-10 clubs plan on having fans for their season openers. The season begins Dec. 22.
Barnes said Paul “also mentioned talking about possibly wanting to come back to the Clippers but that didn’t work either,” confirming The Post’s report the club was high on Paul’s list with Doc Rivers now gone.
“I think Phoenix is a great fit for him,” Barnes said. “Him being the floor leader he is, and the intelligent player he is, I think he’s going to take a lot off Devin Booker’s plate. I think Devin Booker has the chance to possibly lead the league in scoring now because he has a man that’ll give him the ball in the right places whenever he needs it.”
Paul should also be a help to Suns center Deandre Ayton, Barnes said.
“Chris has a history of being great with big men starting with Tyson Chandler early on in New Orleans, with my former teammate, DeAndre Jordan, and then the short time he had with Clint Capela, made Clint Capela look like one of the best bigs in the game,” Barnes said. “So Deandre Ayton with his skill set, he’s already a 20-10 guy, with CP3 coming to that team is only going to make him a lot better.”
The Suns figure to be a playoff team with Paul while the Knicks are stuck in rebuilding mode unless they swing a deal for point guard Russell Westbrook. Some members of the organization were hesitant giving up too many pawns for a 35-year-old at this stage of their rebuilding process.