Knicks’ issues are on full display after putting veterans on the trade block

julius randle, knicks, evan fournier

The Knicks are gearing up to face off against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, but they have far greater problems than their next opponent. New York has systemic problems within their starting five, especially with Julius Randle regressing well below his All-Star form in 2021.

Tom Thibodeau needed Randle to replicate his monster performance from last season, but he’s averaging five fewer points per game and shooting the three-point shot at a 10% discount.

Unless Julius can magically turn his year around, the Knicks are in for a long season and either an early playoff exit or missing it altogether. Currently, New York sits just outside of the play-in tournament, three games below .500 and struggling to pick up wins.

By all accounts, there could end up being a major shake-up at the trade deadline in just two weeks, and reports are indicating the team is going to be sellers.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Thursday that the Knicks are willing to part ways with several veterans, which is a slap in the face after the front office went into the off-season with an aggressive mentality.

If the Knicks are really keen on trading away Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker, they would be throwing in the white towel and admitting they made significant mistakes in player evaluation this past off-season. Fournier signed a four-year, $73 million contract, and Walker landed a two-year, $18 million deal.

Fournier is averaging just 13.4 points per game and shooting 41.6% from the field. His lackluster defense and poor positioning have put the Knicks in a tough spot at times.

Walker is a nonexistent force on defense, currently dealing with left knee issues but playing through them to start the new year. Walker is averaging 13 points per game and shooting 38.8% from three-point range. The problem with Walker, aside from his defense, is that he’s not a floor general point guard. New York desperately needs a player who can facilitate and curate assists at a high rate, and Walker simply isn’t that player anymore.

To be quite frank, there may not be a team out there willing to part ways with any capital in exchange for Walker unless they view him as a valuable bench piece and can afford to ignore defense. Fournier’s contract is paying him an average of $18.25 million per season. That amount will likely scare suitors away.

Unless the front office is willing to part ways with several young players to acquire more established talent, the Knicks are in for a bumpy trade deadline.

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