The regression of Julius Randle has put the New York Knicks in a tough spot moving forward. Sitting three games below .500 on the season, New York was embarrassed by the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, going down by 30 points at one point in the game.
This year, Randle has played a big part in the Knicks’ struggles, shooting a measly 30.7% from three-point range and averaging just 18.7 points per game, down 5.0 from his All-Star campaign last year.
If Tom Thibodeau wants to take a step forward and contend for a playoff spot, the Knicks will need to make a significant move at the trade deadline. However, they could also view the return of Derrick Rose in several weeks as a catalyst they need at point guard to propel them into a more advantageous spot.
There is a scenario where the Knicks make a huge attempt to grab one of the best young players in the league, Donovan Mitchell.
“They’re a first-round exit from Donovan being in New York,” an Eastern Conference scout told Ric Bucher of Fox Sports.
The scout indicates that the Utah Jazz are a first-round exit away from Mitchell, forcing his way to another team. Being from New York and the attractiveness of Madison Square Garden may be enough to sway Mitchell to force a trade between the two teams.
Mitchell is currently on a five-year, 163 million deal that expires in 2026. The contract is actually quite healthy for the first four seasons, landing at just above $30 million, similar to Julius Randle.
Theoretically, the Knicks could swap Randle and other assets for Mitchell, who’s having a far more dominant season at 25 years old. Coming off two consecutive All-Star appearances, the Utah star is averaging 25.5 points, 5.2 assists, 1.6 steals, and shooting 34% from deep on 9.5 attempts per game. He’s also connecting on 45% of his shots from the field, and he’s nearly a 90% free-throw shooter.
There’s no question that Mitchell has sustained success longer than Randle and is only earning a smidge more than the Knicks star power forward. However, it would likely cost an arm and a leg to acquire him, parting ways with solid young talent in the process. Essentially, New York would be gutting their team, but they would have a bit of money available depending on the contract, say get rid of.
Acquiring Mitchell is a pipe dream, but one that would turn the Knicks into an instant contender.