Knicks’ Julius Randle takes one for the team as he eyes star-powered roster down the road

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The New York Knicks are thinking long-term with their off-season moves thus far, retaining some of their own players preparing to hit free agency and bringing in two outsiders to help bolster the squad. Adding point guard Kemba Walker and shooting guard/small forward Evan Fournier, the team has upgraded from the previous players who contained those positions.

However, one of their priorities this off-season was to extend Julius Randle, who earned his first All-Star appearance last season and is headed into the final year of a three-year, $62.1 million contract.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Knicks and star power forward Julius Randle have agreed on a four-year, $117 million extension.

Randle is earning just below $30 million per season, making him the 47th highest-paid player in the league. By most accounts, Randle settled to help his team down the road, which is a valiant thing to do in this day and age.

Ultimately, the star power forward could’ve bet on himself and earned closer to $200 million on a max extension (learned from Dennis Schroder’s mistake), but Randle wanted to get the deal done so that his team would have more financial flexibility in the future.

The contracts the front office signed this off-season are well structured, as Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, and Nerlens Noel all essentially have two-year deals with a voidable year 3, including no guaranteed money in the last year. Fournier is on a four-year, $78 million deal, which also has an out after the third season. His contract hovers around market value as well, indicating the Knicks walked away this free agency with quality players at multiple positions and still managed to retain some of their own to instill continuity.

However, in two years, when the Knicks are looking to shed a few contracts and stockpile their remaining cap space, they can look at a star player. For example, Zion Williamson will see his rookie contract end in two seasons, and while the New Orleans Pelicans can present him the qualifying offer, an alternative team could deal a massive offer sheet.

Randle’s contract opens the possibility of signing Williamson down the road, and based on the state of the Pelicans’ front office, it’s unlikely Williamson elects to stay with the organization. He always wanted to be a New York Knick, and that will be his best opportunity as they prepare their salary space for that reality.