Immanuel Quickley’s emergence may be stealing headlines in New York, but it’s his fellow Knicks teammate who the Boston Celtics may be keeping tabs on.
While rarely at full strength this season, when the Celtics are fully equipped, they sport one of the more well-rounded lineups in the league. However, the underwhelming play of Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson has left much to be desired in terms of production. Not to mention, neither offer enough offensive versatility from the four-spot.
That’s where Knicks standout Julius Randle comes into play.
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Julius Randle Floated as a Prime Trade Target for the Celtics
Playing at a fringe All-Star level at the moment, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz believes the 26-year-old forward is the answer to Boston’s “biggest problem.”
Bringing in a more versatile power forward—one who can knock down threes at a higher clip and play-make for others at times—would help. Boston is just 29th in assist percentage (53.8 percent) and has remained in the bottom four even with Walker’s return from a knee injury.
Julius Randle, 26, is assembling the best season of his career (22.5 points, 11.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists per game, 35.6 percent from three) for the New York Knicks. His long-term future with the franchise was in doubt after the team selected power forward Obi Toppin at No. 8 overall this past draft, meaning Randle could be available via trade.
The Celtics’ $28.5 million trade exception from the Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade is more than enough to absorb Randle’s $18.9 million salary, so the sides wouldn’t have to match money when deciding on compensation.
A starting unit of Walker, Brown, Tatum, Randle and Thompson would fit together beautifully while containing better spacing and ball movement overall.
Julius Randle’s Fit With the Celtics
Randle has steadily developed into one of the league’s most well-rounded forwards since arriving in New York. Thriving in Tom Thibodeau’s new system, the former Kentucky Wildcat is currently averaging career-highs in points (22.4), rebounds (11.1) and assists (6.0). Furthermore, he’s expanded his credibility as a 3-point shooter, owning a 36.9% 3-point percentage in 2020-21, a 9.1% jump from his 27.8% career 3-point percentage entering the season.
As for Boston’s current frontcourt duo of Theis and Thompson, each adds quality traits to the team’s lineup. Theis, while not lethal from beyond the arc, remains serviceable with a 38.2% 3-point percentage this year. As for Thompson, he’s certainly not lived up to expectations since coming over from Cleveland but continues to be a worthy contributor on the offensive glass.
With that said, deploying the clunky two-big lineup has proven to be less than efficient for the Celtics. The two players have shared the court for 147 minutes this season, owning a net rating of -1.5.
The NBA trade deadline is quickly approaching, and as long as the Celtics have their trade exception to deploy, they will continue to head trade talks leading up to March 25. Yet, out of all the wild trade scenarios tossed around in recent months, a move for Randle is certainly one of the least outrageous proposals. However, with the Knicks finally looking as if they’re building to something, so it may prove to be a difficult task to pry the forward out of New York.
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