Knicks: Julius Randle mock trade scenarios that make New York a championship contender

Mar 29, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) controls the ball against Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks’ timeline, with Julius Randle as the cornerstone, has seen the reestablished culture of the Knicks as a legitimate franchise and prominent destination for years to come. The respect Randle deserves from Knicks fans is insurmountable. In five seasons, Randle has averaged 22.6 points, 4.7 assists, and 9.9 rebounds on 45% from the floor.

A midseason trade saw the New York Knicks bring in forward OG Anunoby, thus unraveling a near-unstoppable trio of Brunson, Randle, and Anunoby boasting a +24.5 Net Rating in 12 games together. Injuries to both Randle and Anunoby in a late January contest against the Miami Heat marked the beginning of a treacherous string of injuries throughout the rotation that derailed the Knick’s momentum down the stretch.

Randle, suffering a dislocated shoulder, missed the remainder of the season, and the pairing of Anunoby with Brunson saw increased production on both offense and defense, with the Knicks boasting a 20-3 record with Anunoby in the lineup. Moving on from Randle might be the step that puts New York over the top in an ever-changing NBA landscape. 

Building toward the future

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) and guard Jalen Brunson (11) react to a play against the Utah Jazz during the third quarter at Delta Center
Dec 13, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) and guard Jalen Brunson (11) react to a play against the Utah Jazz during the third quarter at Delta Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Finals, between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks, are two teams that made subtle yet substantial moves to put their teams over the hump. The New York Knicks have moved similarly, trading RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley for OG Anunoby, followed by trading Quentin Grimes and Evan Fournier to Detroit for Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic.

Minor chess moves that showed an overall gain as New York’s depth and versatility, led by Jalen Brunson, finished as the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Randle has been lobbied in trade talks dating back to the 2020 season, yet the Knicks have been reluctant to part ways with their All-Star Forward.

The two-time All-NBA star has had two opportunities with the Knicks to make a push in the playoffs, but Randle has shot 34% from the floor and 28% from three in 15 playoff games.

Seeing the momentum the Knicks had going into the playoffs was a sign that a healthy Knicks team, with or without Randle, handles business to extend New York’s playoff run.

Julius Randle trade scenarios to turn the Knicks into Finals contenders

NBA: Denver Nuggets at New York Knicks
Jan 25, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) controls the ball against Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks went 21-15 without Julius Randle and had a net rating of +3.8. The possibility of trading Randle’s $30 million salary for more depth or an upgrade that better accommodates the flow and motion type of offense seen when Jalen Brunson took the reins may be the best option. Sketch defense with interesting shot quality at times leaves Randle not the most sought-after commodity, but he would be a great addition to a young team looking to get into the playoffs. Let the star hunting begin. 

  1. Land of the Rising Sun – Knicks trade Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson for Kevin Durant. Trouble is brewing in Phoenix, league executives have kept a side eye on Kevin Durant, looking to make an offer he can’t refuse if he even mentions the idea of being disgruntled.
  2. Put out the Fire- Knicks trade Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson for Jimmy Butler. The lack of extension talks between Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat has made a prolonged impression that Butler may be out of Miami sooner than later. Interesting comments from Pat Riley regarding Butler suggest Riley may look elsewhere to put his team over the top, and with Timberwolves Coach Tom Thibodeau in New York, an enticing reunion may be among us. 
  3. New York loves Jazz- Knicks trade Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Jericho Sims for Jordan Clarkson and Lauri Markkanen. This trade would be the most enticing to keep both depth and gain versatility, with Lauri and Clarkson meshing well under Thibodeau’s regime. Clarkson might be the only wild card, but at 32 years old, Clarkson’s chances of winning a ring would be even better. 

Randle, soon to be 30 years old, has been tied to trade conversations as long as he’s been a Knick. A low-stress and low-media environment may do best for Randle where cons to his game can be developed, and won’t be broadcast to such degree as everything is in New York City. 

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