The calls for the New York Knicks to trade Julius Randle have already started. The Knicks’ star was brutal during the 2023 NBA Playoffs, prompting some fans and talking heads to demand that New York move on from its only All-NBA player.
Executing a Julius Randle trade would be complicated for the Knicks. New York has made the playoffs as a top-five seed in the East twice in the last three years because of Randle’s terrific regular-season play. Both of the Knicks’ playoff exits, however, have been highlighted by borderline disastrous postseason performances from the star forward.
The Knicks beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs in spite of Randle’s 14.4 points per game on 33.8% shooting. In five games against the Miami Heat, Randle averaged 18.8 points on 41.1% shooting. Randle’s defense was awful at times. He had nearly as many turnovers as assists.
There are likely a few teams that would gladly insert Randle into their lineup. The 28-year-old averaged 25.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 77 games. Randle, not Jalen Brunson, was the Knicks’ lone All-Star.
It’s more likely than not that Randle will return to the Knicks for the 2023-2024 season. But what if New York wants to make a significant change?
Let’s take a look at the three best trade destinations for Randle if the Knicks decide to deal their star.
The Timberwolves are the most obvious Julius Randle trade destination. Minnesota’s core of Rudy Gobert, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns is unlikely to compete for a championship. The Timberwolves might not be willing to trade Edwards for anyone. Gobert has one of the NBA’s most untradeable contracts. Towns will be the odd man out if Minnesota shakes up its roster.
A Towns-for-Randle trade could make sense for both sides. Towns has been linked to New York ever since Leon Rose, his former agent, became the Knicks team president. Towns and his 3-point shooting prowess would help the Knicks spread the floor with Brunson as New York’s lead facilitator. Randle’s contract makes him a much more affordable second star for the Timberwolves. A trade would also give Minnesota a way out of trying to fit a pair of 7-footers into the same lineup.
Could the Wizards try to get out from under Bradley Beal’s contract? It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea since Beal is owed $207 million over the next four years. Washington didn’t even make the 2023 NBA Play-in Tournament and is nowhere near close to being a contender. Swapping Beal for Randle would give the Wizards a player who is equally as productive at half the cost.
When Beal is at his best, he’s exactly the kind of player that is missing from the Knicks’ roster. Beal is a career 37.2% 3-point shooter. The Wizards’ guard was closer to a 40% shooter from distance earlier in his career when John Wall was the team’s main ball handler. Playing alongside Brunson, Beal could be an efficient 25-point per-game scorer who helps space the floor in a way that Randle cannot.
There are rumblings that the Rockets want to make a splash in the 2023 offseason and compete for a playoff spot. James Harden has been linked to Houston and could be the team’s No. 1 target. If Harden chooses to stay with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Rockets could look to trade for an All-Star.
A straight-up trade between the Rockets and Knicks probably doesn’t work for New York. Houston doesn’t have a player who could replace Randle’s production in the lineup next season. The Rockets own multiple Brooklyn Nets’ first-round picks. If a third team who has players that the Knicks value gets involved, Randle to the Rockets would make much more sense.
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