Teams around the league reportedly believe that if the New York Knicks can finalize a trade for Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, moving Julius Randle in a separate deal would likely follow.
The Knicks have been a reliable source of headline fodder throughout the NBA offseason so far. They were able to sign one of the top players on the free agent market in Jalen Brunson, and they are now linked to being a front runner in a swap to acquire Mitchell.
However, if they were secure the services of the three-time All-Star it would mean the team added a serious amount of incoming salary this summer. Then there’s the fact that talented wingman RJ Barrett is hoping to land a max deal in the next year. Meaning the team will need to offload salary if they plan to have Brunson, Mitchell, and Barrett long-term. Julius Randle and the four years and $117 million he has left on his deal would make sense as the money that needs to go.
On Wednesday, NBA insider Marc Stein reported that organization’s around the league expect the Knicks to try and free up cash after a Mitchell trade and Randle is the odds-on favorite to be shipped off to achieve that goal.
“Keep an eye on them because the Knicks will have to look to get off salary, realistically,” Stein said. “They’re taking on Mitchell’s contract, they just made Brunson $100 million player, tand hey’re going to extend RJ Barret. They can’t have four guys making $100 million realistically if you want any flexibility to improve the team beyond that. So that has led other teams to believe that the Knicks would look into trading Julius Randle. And I’ve also been led to believe that Julius Randle is right on that line.”
New York Knicks possible trade partners in Julius Randle swap
If the Knicks do look to shop the one-time All-Star on the trade market, what teams would be interested in taking on that sort of money? Here are three organizations that could be open to a Julius Randle trade.
Los Angeles Lakers
In Stein’s report, he specifically mentioned the Los Angeles Lakers as a destination. Rumblings from the organization continue to suggest shipping Russell Westbrook out of LA would be the preferred option. However, they do not want to give up draft assets or take on another bad contract in a deal. However, Stein reports that Randle — who was drafted by the Lakers in 2014 — is a player the team would seriously consider taking back to get rid of “Westbrick.”
It doesn’t offload money for the Knicks this year, but will after 2022-2023 when Westbrook becomes a free agent.
The Indiana Pacers took a surprising big swing in free agency when they tried to sign Deandre Ayton earlier this month. However, to the shock of many in the league, the Suns actually matched the offer sheet to the talented big man. With a lot of cap space left and a solid core of young talent, the team could see Randle as a strong veteran presence to help them in the short and long term. Especially if the Knicks send over a first-round pick as well.
The move would give them a legitimate go-to scorer and someone point guard Tyrese Haliburton could play off of.
San Antonio Spurs
Like the Pacers, the San Antonio Spurs still have a whole bunch of cap space available. While the team is in a full rebuild — especially after trading Dejounte Murray — Randle could also be viewed as a reliable star for the Spurs to develop young talent next to if the Knicks package Randle with draft picks.
- Julius Randle stats (2021-2022): 20.1 PPG, 9.9 REB, 5.1 AST, 30% 3P FG
New York will likely have to give up at least six upcoming first-rounders for Mitchell. Whatever they have left of the eight in the next few seasons could go to the Spurs along with the still young 27-year-old.