The New York Knicks landed Jalen Brunson in the offseason, but they have their eyes set on bringing another star to the team.
Donovan Mitchell has been in their sights, and last we heard the Knicks were indeed the frontrunners in that race, but there’s been nothing to indicate a move is getting closer at the moment.
There’s still a lot of time left this summer to grab him, so fans shouldn’t start to panic just yet. It’s also been reported that if the Knicks do land Mitchell, it could start a domino effect that would lead to Julius Randle being shipped out of town to the Los Angeles Lakers.
If Mitchell falls through for whatever reason, and the Knicks still want to find their way out from underneath Randle’s four-year, $117 million extension, then they might want to try giving the Charlotte Hornets a call.
Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes suggests a flip of Julius Randle and a 2024 first-round pick for Gordon Hayward, and that could be a good way for the Knicks to improve their spacing while also getting Randle’s contract out of town.
Does the Swap Make Sense?
Hayward is a long ways away from his star days from Utah, but he’s proven he can still be a productive player when healthy. The issue is that he’s also carrying a big contract with him and the Knicks seem to have his role already filled with Evan Fournier.
You won’t be seeing Hayward playing power forward for the Knicks, so while this trade would allow Obi Toppin to slide into a starting role, would that mean Hayward comes off the bench?
Hughes argues Hayward’s deal being shorter will allow the Knicks more flexibility going forward, despite the $120 million price tag.
“Though the injury issues that have limited him to an average of 48 games a year over the last three persist, there’s a real possibility Hayward is a more productive player than Randle going forward,” he wrote. “And the key here for the Knicks is that “going forward” only encompasses the two remaining seasons on Hayward’s deal, which will pay him a total of $61.6 million.”
Outside of Fournier, the Knicks don’t actually have many consistent shooters from deep, so Hayward would definitely fill a void there. Hughes also argues that Brunson coming to town means Randle’s ball handling abilities aren’t in need.
“Plus, with Jalen Brunson on board to run the show, Randle’s facilitation, which includes some unhelpful ball-stopping tendencies, is no longer necessary,” he continued. “Hayward’s brand of ball movement is quicker, more decisive and far less disruptive to the offensive flow.”
Would the Hornets Do It?
Trades aren’t usually made just to do them, but instead they’d have to make a move that’d make them better too.
With LaMelo Ball running the show, the Hornets don’t exactly need Randle to have the ball in his hands very often either, but Hughes believes he could still fit in, but the main draw is certainly the draft pick.
“The appeal for the Hornets resides mostly in that first-round pick, the protections on which will be a point of discussion between these teams,” he wrote. “There’s also the upside of Randle possibly regaining his All-NBA form and his lower average annual salary. It’s not out of the question that Randle will be a positive asset in two years, which is how long the Hornets would have had Hayward under contract anyway. Maybe a fresh start on a new team is all it’ll take for Randle to find his form and rehab his market value.”
Randle isn’t that far removed from being the NBA’s Most Improved Player, an All-Star and a member of the All-NBA team, so while his value is low, it’s not like he’s a player with no worth at all.