The New York Knicks find themselves in a challenging situation, needing to find another star player to join forces with Jalen Brunson and maximize their championship window.
The Julius Randle Question
The team’s position on power forward Julius Randle is a point of uncertainty. His postseason performance has left the Knicks with two choices: part ways with Randle or add another contributor around him to boost the team’s offensive production.
Despite Brunson’s heroic efforts in carrying the Knicks through the playoffs and securing a series victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Randle’s struggle with an ankle injury hindered his contribution.
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Coach Thibodeau’s Preference
Coach Tom Thibodeau’s fondness for Randle suggests that trading him this off-season is unlikely. However, the Knicks’ need for a third star to share the burden is apparent.
Zach LaVine: A Potential Option
Despite LaVine’s injury-riddled past, he averaged 24.8 points across 77 games last season. He had a shooting efficiency of .485 from the field and .375 from three-point range. Additionally, he contributed 4.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and shot .848 from the free-throw line. Known for his elite shooting skills, LaVine could offer the Knicks much-needed spacing and shooting efficiency.
Balancing the Trio
A formidable trio of Randle, Brunson, and LaVine could pose a significant threat, though balancing shooting opportunities would be an intriguing development.
Including LaVine could mean that the Knicks might have to remove one player from the rotation, possibly RJ Barrett, who could be part of a potential trade. LaVine, who’s entering the second year of his five-year, $215 million deal, is scheduled to earn $40 million, equating to 29.90% of the league cap.
LaVine’s Prime and Potential Impact
With two All-Star appearances in his last three seasons, LaVine appears to be in his prime. He played 77 games last season, signaling robust health – an aspect the Knicks will prioritize. LaVine’s impressive shooting performance could significantly address a current offensive gap.
However, as a volume shooter, LaVine might end up reducing opportunities for others. Yet, considering his scoring efficiency and his ability to heat up from anywhere on the floor, the shift might not be negative.
LaVine’s playoff experience is limited to four games, where he averaged 19.3 points and shot .429 from the field and .375 from three-point range. This small sample size doesn’t offer much insight, but his efficiency during this short playoff stint was evident.
Potential Deal Structure
In a prospective deal for LaVine, the Knicks would likely have to trade one of their young talents and perhaps offer draft capital. The Bulls would need to agree to absorb Evan Fournier’s contract, which amounts to nearly $19 million for the upcoming season. LaVine could be the missing piece in the Knicks’ offense, providing elite shooting power. The question remains: what would the Bulls want in return?