- Knicks forward Julius Randle is going to be the center of trade rumors this season
- Randle is playing the best basketball of his career
- Here are several potential trades for the former Lakers forward
The future of Knicks power forward Julius Randle is one storyline that has gone relatively under the radar so far in the 2020-21 NBA season.
Though a little antiquated in his offensive game, Randle is still a walking double-double playing the best basketball of his career. Through thirteen games so far, he’s putting up averages of 22.8 points, 11.0 boards, and 6.1 assists per contest on excellent efficiency.
In one of the season’s bigger surprises, New York holds the eighth seed in a loaded Eastern Conference as of this post. Without any top talent to lead the way for the scrappy Knickerbockers, though, this success is sure to be an outlier rather than a sustainable norm. After missing out on the Zion sweepstakes and eventually mucking up their chances at Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Knicks could still have their eyes set on acquiring star talent to contend for a chip moving forward.
The Knicks will have to decide on its future with Randle eventually. At just 26 years old, Randle’s three-year, $62 million contract should bring excellent value to any team looking to shore up its frontcourt rotation. He’s a proven starter that will produce in any system, and it’s difficult to deny the trade value he’s racked up so far. Here are a few interesting trade scenarios should the Knicks decide to move on from Randle.
Team up with Dame
- Knicks acquire: Zach Collins, CJ McCollum
- Blazers acquire: Julius Randle, Frank Ntilikina, Reggie Bullock, 2021 first-round pick (via LAC), 2021 first-round pick (via DAL)
It may sound drastic, but hear us out. Damian Lillard isn’t getting any younger, and it remains to be seen how willing the Blazers are to break up their guard duo.
In a Western Conference led by the two Los Angeles teams and their dominant superstars, other teams would be right to focus on developing their talent in the short term. Regardless of how talented their own roster might be, Portland is simply not competing for a title in the Wild, Wild West.
Portland is 27th in defensive rating in the NBA, giving up 114.0 points per 100 possessions. They don’t look like a team competing for a title. The offseason acquisitions of Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. have not been enough to buttress a defense playing Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter heavy minutes.
With his lack of shooting ability, Randle is a bit of a tricky trade piece in the modern NBA. What he excels in is his interior presence on both offense and defense, something Portland sorely needs. Randle affords them a strong, mobile body to throw against the league’s more nimble bigs. Bullock is a competent 3&D wing with good size who brings decent value to any team he lands on in limited minutes.
Pulling the trigger on a deal like this ensures at least a few more playoff victories for a top-heavy Portland team that has been “a few pieces away” for years now. The draft assets would also allow them to get some much-needed depth moving forward.
McCollum gives New York a leader to breathe some life back into Madison Square Garden and a recruiting chip for other stars. Though he has never been an All-Star, he’s undeniably one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. Collins gives them a stretch four who provides spacing and additional rim protection next to Mitchell Robinson.
New York is still among the NBA’s biggest markets. They won’t have any trouble attracting star talent for the foreseeable future.
Bolster Toronto’s frontcourt
- Knicks acquire: Kyle Lowry, Matt Thomas, Stanley Johnson
- Raptors acquire: Julius Randle, Dennis Smith Jr., 2022 first-round pick
Toronto is in a similar situation to the Trail Blazers right now. They’re the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference, and the likelihood that they turn their losing season around grows dimmer by the day. Even if they do manage to rack up enough wins to squeak into the postseason, there’s really no guarantee this team makes it past the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, or Milwaukee Bucks.
Without a bonafide superstar player to lead the way, Toronto is likely not winning a championship this season. Moving on from a player whose name has become synonymous with their franchise will sting for sure, but it might be the page they need to turn to get back to contending for a title once more.
Lowry will bring veteran leadership, championship experience, and point guard mentorship to a young Knicks team. Matt Thomas is an excellent shooter and underrated playmaker, while Stanley Johnson will provide above-average perimeter defense. With the departure of Randle, the Knicks can comfortably slot in Nerlens Noel and Obi Toppin to take his place.
Dennis Smith Jr. has been on the downturn ever since he joined the Knicks. But a spot on the Raptors, whose development staff has built a reputation for finding diamonds in the rough like Terrence Davis and Chris Boucher, could breathe some life into their careers thus far.
The Raptors also need some help at the center position. Boucher provides quality minutes for them, but Alex Len and Aron Baynes have not been worth their signings. The production of Randle could be the spark that turns their season around.
Getting Randle allows them to fight for a playoff spot for the rest of the season, but Smith and a pick should be enough insurance to build on if this season proves unsuccessful.
Bucks trade for Randle
The Bucks have always been called contenders, but they’ve never really felt that way relative to their competition. In the wake of Harden’s sojourn to Brooklyn, Milwaukee might be hard-pressed to play catch-up in terms of star power.
Though not as likely as the other trades mentioned, this deal would be mutually beneficial for a number of reasons. The Bucks’ formerly league-leading defense has slipped down to the ninth spot. That’s not good news for a team with legitimate title aspirations.
Brook Lopez may not be serving his purpose for the Bucks. He’s still one of the best rim protectors in the league. But his three-point shooting dried up a season ago and never really returned to form.
Getting Randle won’t do their spacing any favors, but the idea of pairing another athletic inside presence next to the physical specimen that is Giannis Antetokounmpo is certainly interesting. It also gives the Bucks someone else to throw at the speedier bigs in the league moving forward.
To be sure, Randle is still traditionally a power forward, but he would have a relatively easier time taking on speedier matchups than Bobby Portis and DJ Wilson. Landing another borderline All-Star would help the Bucks’ case as the team to beat in the East.
For New York, they’re assured a competent big man to anchor interior defense when Robinson sits. They also have a shot at developing young talent like DJ Wilson and Jaylen Adams, who are closer to the timelines of Barrett, Knox, and Robinson.
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