Knicks mock trade ships star power forward off for Swiss army knife All-Star

Feb 11, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) dunks the ball against New York Knicks center Jericho Sims (45) and forward Julius Randle (30) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are in the business of obtaining a marquee player to catapult them to championship contention, and one tough business decision has them parting ways with their former All-NBA forward Julius Randle in order to acquire a jack-of-all-trades All-Star.

A mock trade from Bleacher Report has the Knicks sending Randle, a 2024 first-round pick, and a 2027 first-round pick swap to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Lauri Markkanen (h/t Jeremy Brener of Fan Nation’s All Knicks).

Knicks could trade for a 7-foot star in Lauri Markkanen with guard-like offensive capabilities

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz
Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Markkanen is one of only a handful of players in the NBA who stand at 7-foot and can legitimately play three positions on the floor. The Finnish All-Star followed up his Most Improved Player of the Year award-winning season in 2022-23 by averaging 23.2 points and 8.2 rebounds a night on 48 percent shooting from the field, 39.9 percent shooting from long range, and 89.9 percent from the charity stripe.

The 27-year-old would be a dream come true for a Knicks team that could go ultra big and play him at small forward or play small with him as a deadeye center from distance. The Knicks are looking to pair a star talent next to Randle and Jalen Brunson and not sacrifice one of them in exchange for another, but Markkanen provides a skillset unique from Randle’s that trends in the direction that the team headed in to close out the 2023-24 regular season — a trend that helped them put the finishing touches on their best season in 24 years.

Knicks have the assets to make the Jazz an enticing offer for Markkanen

NBA: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets
Jan 23, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) drives to the basket against Brooklyn Nets forward Dorian Finney-Smith (28) and forward Cameron Johnson (2) during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Markkanen would help the Knicks play faster, open up the floor, and move the ball with even more verve in the half-court. The Knicks have eight first-round picks in the next three drafts alone, so they have the cache to give one up in a deal to acquire the 2023 All-Star. They also have Bojan Bogdanovic’s favorable $19.03 million expiring contract to offer Utah.

Whether the Jazz would agree to such a deal is questionable, as their current power forward John Collins shares qualities with Randle that may not complement one another on the floor. No matter, Randle is a top-25 player in the league that could help the Jazz rebuild.

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