Knicks’ Long-Term Plan For Julius Randle Revealed: ‘I Wouldn’t Hold Your Breath’

Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Getty Julius Randle of the New York Knicks reacts during the second half against the Utah Jazz.

The New York Knicks may currently be viewed as one of the most active teams on the trade market and have several players found oft mentioned within the league’s trade rumor mill, but it seems that they have one surprise individual that they deem to be off the table when it comes to negotiations.

In a January 5 episode of “The Putback,” host and NBA Insider Ian Begley was asked what the long-term picture looks like for 28-year-old Julius Randle in the Big Apple, and, in response, he noted that though Leon Rose and company may have considered moving on from the former All-Star in the past, based on recent buzz it appears that the front office has little interest in parting ways with their starting four.

“Prior to the draft last year I think there was more than cursory conversations about a deal involving Randle, but, ultimately, there was no buy-in at the top of the Knicks organization to pull the trigger on that deal and that’s why I’ve said since then…I don’t see a deal where the Knicks would just get off of Julius Randle…It’s not going to be some salary dump and I think that people in touch with the Knicks even recently are under the impression that the people at the top of the front office–Leon Rose, Williams Wesley, Brock Aller, Scott Perry, the whole group–I don’t think there’s any desire to trade Julius Randle,” Begley said.

After putting forth a mightily underwhelming 2021-22 campaign with the Knicks, Randle has seemingly snapped back into his 2020-21 All-NBA form now in year four with the franchise, as he finds himself posting tremendous per-game averages of 24.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists on 46.2% shooting from the field and 35.0% shooting from distance while leading the team in box plus-minus, offensive box plus-minus, and win shares on the year.

Trading Randle Tricky for Knicks

In the hypothetical scenario where the Knicks do pursue a trade involving Julius Randle heading outbound, even when taking into account how well he’s been playing as of late, finding a suitor for his services could prove to ultimately be rather challenging.

In a recent sit-down with Heavy Sports’ NBA Insider Sean Deveney, an anonymous Eastern Conference general manager noted that the problem with shopping someone of Randle’s ilk is that New York would have to find a team willing to pay his lucrative salary (signed to a four-year, $117 million contract through 2026) while also being able to mesh well with his style of play, both of which are no small asks.

Though there admittedly would be some hardships in finding a match, interestingly enough the executive stated that perhaps a team like the Milwaukee Bucks could be an optimal match for his services, arguing that, of all the win-now teams that currently roster a superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the one they believe could benefit the most from the big man’s talents.

“Giannis is one (player) who comes to mind because of the way he cuts and makes himself available and can play off other passers. I am not saying that Milwaukee is beating down the doors to get Julius Randle, but that is the kind of star who could work well with a player with Randle’s skill,” the executive told Deveney.

Despite this, however, the consensus belief of both the executive and SNY’s Ian Begley is that the most likely scenario is that Julius Randle will find himself donning the orange and blue threads for the foreseeable future, and, considering his All-Star level of play of late, it’s easy to see why.

Knicks Could Trade Randle’s Backup

Though Julius Randle may not currently be viewed as a realistic trade option this season when it comes to Knicks players, recent rumblings suggest his primary backup could certainly be.

According to an anonymous Eastern Conference executive, New York’s front office has already engaged in trade talks with the Indiana Pacers that would involve third-year big man Obi Toppin heading outbound to the Hoosier state.

“There has been some talk between the Pacers and Knicks about Obi (Toppin). He fits in Indiana, especially if they keep Turner. Obi is a rim-runner, he has some toughness, he has athleticism. He needs minutes and a team that is rebuilding with young talent like Indy is a really good match,” the exec told Deveney.

The executive would continue by suggesting that the Pacers could shell out a few first-round picks in such a transaction, which, considering many already believe that the Knicks are stockpiling draft selections, could bode well for a potential deal to ultimately be executed.