Widespread speculation about Knicks’ forward Julius Randle’s future in New York has erupted in recent days, with many NBA insiders predicting an offseason trade for the 27-year-old veteran.
Trade talk has been rampant regarding Randle since the trade deadline earlier in the season, when the big man’s name popped up in a variety of potential swaps.
Ultimately, the Knicks front office opted to keep the 6-foot 8-inch front court player, and the team has seen significant improvements in Randle’s game since mid-season.
March 7 saw the former Los Angeles Laker score his career-high 46 points in a road matchup against the Sacramento Kings, and has similarly piled on impressive offensive showings in other recent games.
On the season, the big man has shot 17.3 field goals per game, and averaged 20.1 points, while recording 5.1 assists per contest.
Randle is likely to produce a $21,780,000 cap hit for the Knicks this year, and is signed through the 2025-26 season (with a player option in his final year).
That means the team from MSG would be on the hook for Randle for a high-$20 million salary for the next three seasons, unless they could offload his deal to another team in exchange for an more-recently expiring contract.
One possible trade target for the Knicks is point guard De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings, who is also locked-up long-term, but may provide a better fit for developing young players on the Knicks’ roster, such as Obi Toppin, who has played just 15.6 minutes per game this season sitting behind Randle at the power forward spot. Toppin has recorded a respectable .525 field goal percentage, while averaging 7.7 points-per-game.
Other potential trades would include Randle heading to Denver in exchange for the Nuggets’ Will Barton and Monte Morris, or to the Washington Wizards for a package built around fellow-former-Laker Kyle Kuzma.
With a large cap-hit to the big free-agent spenders that the Knicks look to be, and the mediocre results that will see the Knicks almost certainly miss the playoffs, big changes appear to be afoot at Madison Square Garden.
With youngsters like Toppin, Rj Barret and Immanuel Quickley to build around, the front office, led by President Leon Rose, may want to bail early on Randle’s forthcoming paydays, and focus on younger talent that represents the future in Midtown.