Knicks Seek Julius Randle, Karl-Anthony Towns Trade
Posted on: May 22, 2023, 09:42h.
Last updated on: May 22, 2023, 09:42h.
The latest trade rumor from the Big Apple suggest the New York Knicks are considering an offseason move involving All-Star forward Julius Randle and big man Karl-Anthony Towns from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Knicks were mentioned in trade rumors with the Philadelphia 76ers last week according to the Lowe Post podcast. The 76ers fired head coach Doc Rivers, and airwaves in Gotham quickly filled with chatter about a potential deal to bring MVP center Joel Embiid to the Knicks.
The Embiid to Knicks deal seems farfetched and half-baked, but it garnered national media attention. It also drowned out other trade rumors involving Randle, which began during the postseason and bubbled to the surface after the Knicks were knocked out of the playoffs by the Miami Heat.
The Knicks inked Randle to a four-year deal worth $117 million. The 28-year-old Randle has a player option in the 2025-26 season worth $29.5 million, and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2026.
Randle Exposed in the Playoffs
The Knicks were the #5 seed and looked like a far superior team than their opponent in the first round. The Knicks picked off the #4 Cleveland Cavs in five games to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. They squared off against the #8 Heat who were fresh off an upset over the #1 Milwaukee Bucks. The Knicks were the betting favorite to win the series at -145 odds, and the Heat were the underdog at +120.
The Heat needed six games to defeat the Knicks, but the Knicks seemed overmatched the entire series. Point guard Jalen Brunson emerged as the Knicks true north star, while Randle’s deficiencies were exposed for a second time in the playoffs in the last three seasons. The abysmal Knicks shot 29.2% from 3-point range in the playoffs. Randle struggled from beyond the arc with a 25% success rate.
An ankle injury slowed down Randle, but he was the third-best scorer in the postseason by averaging only 16.6 points per game. That’s a huge drop off from the Knicks leading scorer (26.1 ppg) who secured a second trip to the All-Star Game in the last three seasons.
In the middle the Heat series, offseason trade rumors flared up courtesy of Stephen A. Smith. The brash ESPN pundit was not shy about his disappointment in Randle, and called for the Knicks to trade him in the offseason.
They should trade him, if you could get your hands on somebody like Karl-Anthony Towns,” said Smith on ESPN’s First Take.
It’s one thing to criticize a star player’s lethargic performance after they were eliminated from postseason contention, but it’s an entirely different story when the talking heads are demanding a trade in the middle of the conference semifinals.
Disgruntled KAT in the Twin Cities
The Minnesota Timberwolves gave up four first-round picks and a slew of role players last summer for center and defensive guru Rudy Gobert who splintered the Utah Jazz’s locker room due to his mercurial nature.
It took several years before Jazz players grew tired of Gobert’s prickly behavior, but the Timberwolves soured on Gobert before Thanksgiving.
In the previous season, the high-scoring Timberwolves were an up-and-coming and exciting team to watch. They needed a veteran force and defensive stopper if they wanted to become a serious contender, which is why the addition of Gobert made sense in theory. The Timberwolves saw an instant odds boost to win the 2022-23 NBA championship at +3500 after the Gobert trade.
In reality, the team’s chemistry was drastically altered after adding Gobert to the mix. Towns in particular could not mesh with Gobert, and the two were embroiled in a cold war in the locker room. Towns missed 53 games due a scary calf injury, and the Timberwolves finished the season with a 42-40 record.
The Timberwolves secured the #8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, but they were eliminated in five games by the #1 Denver Nuggets. Guard Anthony Edwards averaged 31.6 points per game in the playoffs, but Towns only averaged 18.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while shooting 25% from 3-point range.
The Timberwolves should probably ditch Gobert to improve their chemistry, but they gave up too much of a haul in the Jazz trade so their stuck with him. It makes more sense to try to rebuild a team around Edwards and Gobert, and trade Towns to the highest bidder.
Knicks to Trade Randle for Towns and Ingram?
New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson has never been shy about his love of Madison Square Garden, which is why Knicks fans were giddy about the possibility of adding the former #1 pick in the draft in a future trade.
Williamson and Knicks small forward RJ Barret developed a close friendship while playing at Duke together, which fueled potential trade rumors. Injuries plagued Williamson during his short career, which cooled down any potential trade talk. However, Barrett and Williamson could reunite if the Knicks trade Barret to the Pelicans. One minor trade rumor suggested the Knicks send Barrett to the Pelicans for forward Brandon Ingram.
However, the biggest rumor involves a multi-team blockbuster trade with the Knicks, Timberwolves, and Pelicans. The Knicks would acquire Towns and Ingram in a three-team trade where the Knicks send Randle and a first-round pick to the Timberwolves, and the Knicks send Barrett, guard Derrick Rose, and two first-round picks to the Pelicans. The Timberwolves would send forward Taurean Prince to the Pelicans, and the Pelicans would send former lottery pick and small forward Dyson Daniels to the Timberwolves to complete the trade.
As a kid who grew up in New Jersey, Towns rooted for the Knicks. He’d love to play for his hometown team, especially if it meant an immediate split from Gobert.
Towns made his first All-Star team in the 2017-18 season when Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau was with the Timberwolves. He also has ties to Knicks general manager Leon Rose, a former agent at CAA, who used to be Towns’ agent.
Lone Star Randle
Randle grew up in Plano, Texas where he emerged as multi-sport star in high school. A return to his home state would not be the worst landing spot for Randle, especially to the Dallas Mavs.
The Mavs are at a crossroads heading into next season after a disappointing 2022-23 campaign. Led by superstar Luka Dončić, the Mavs advanced to the 2022 Western Conference finals last season. Dončić was the consensus preseason favorite to win the MVP this season, and the Mavs were a popular pick to win the 2022-23 NBA championship at +2200 odds.
After a lackluster first half of the season, the Mavs gambled on a trade for guard Kyrie Irving. Despite the addition of Irving, the Mavs missed the playoffs this season with a 38-44 record. They were so bad that they bubbled the Western Conference Play-In Tournament and finished in 11th place in the west.
Irving is a free agent, and the Mavs have not expressed any interest in signing him after the Irving/Dončić experiment failed to produce a postseason berth. The Mavs need to add another scorer to help out Dončić, and Randle would be a much better fit with the Mavs.
The Mavs could send center/forward Christian Wood to the Knicks for Randle and backup center Isaiah Hartenstein. The Knicks would also love to get back two former players in a trade for Randle, including forwards Reggie Bullock and Tim Hardaway, Jr.
If the Knicks are unable to work out a mega-deal for Towns and Randle, the Mavs are ready to step in as a worthy and alternative trade partner.