“I’m gonna say this. I think they should trade him,” Smith said. “If you could get your hands on somebody like Karl-Anthony Towns — Don’t get me wrong. I’m talking about basketball ability, not durability. I don’t think anybody could compete with Julius Randle. He’s been Mr. Reliable. He played the first 77 games of this season before he got injured. So reliability, dependability in that regard, I can’t sniff at that. But I’m talking about from a talent perspective, particularly come playoff time — I’d rather have Karl-Anthony Towns than Julius Randle.”
Towns, 27, has played more than 70 games just once over the last four seasons because of injuries. But while his durability is questionable, his offensive skill set is superior to Randle’s. Towns has not dipped below 55% in effective field goal percentage in his first eight seasons in the league.
Karl-Anthony Towns’ Strong Ties With Knicks
Towns has ties within the Knicks organization, starting at the top.
Knicks president Leon Rose was Towns’ former agent at Creative Artists Agency. Since Rose took over in New York, he has also hired people who have closely worked with Towns in Minnesota before.
Last year, the Knicks added former Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas as senior basketball advisor and Kaalya Chones as Director of Player Development.
Towns also became a first-time All-Star under Thibodeau during the 2017-18 season, even though they didn’t see eye to eye because of their differences in their approach to the game. But Towns has since made amends with Thibodeau, according to a story run by The Athletic last year.
Towns’ trade restriction will be lifted on July 7 after he signed a $224 million, four-year extension with the Timberwolves last year.
In a hypothetical trade, a straight swap will not work. The Knicks must add more salaries to Randle’s in a potential Towns blockbuster trade. Randle plus Derrick Rose [the Knicks have to guarantee his $15.5 million team option for next season] could make the math work, plus additional draft compensation, which the Timberwolves would require.
Why Stephen A. Smith Is Done Believing in Julius Randle
Smith had a long list of statistical futility of Randle in the postseason to back up his belief that the Knicks should move on from the two-time All-Star.
Over the last three seasons, Smith pointed out that Randle has the worst field goal percentages postseason at 34.6% with a minimum of 100 attempts. He also has the worst 3-point field goal shooting percentage at 22.9% minimum of 40 attempts. His opponents — the guy he’s directly defending — he’s given a 50% shooting.
Smith added that Randle has the second-most turnovers per 36 minutes this postseason with 3.9 based on a minimum of five games. Only Alex Len is worse. And of the 149 players who played at least 250 minutes this postseason, he’s second worst in the NBA at 37.5% at field goal shooting, 23.1% from threes which is second worst, and fifth worst in terms of free throws at 69.4%.
“This is the guy Tom Thibodeau continues to give the ball to no matter what, no matter how powerful and strong and quick he is, somehow, some way, he’s always behind the 3-point line. [He’s] always trying to dribble four or five, six or seven times, depending on which possession it is. [He’s] always sitting up there jacking up shots, and more important than this, [he] becomes demoralized once he’s missing and then does stupid things. And so for me, when I look at him, I’m just done,” Smith said.
He credited Randle for his availability and durability and said he would take him every day in the regular season.
“But come postseason time, you got to find a better option than this brother. He’s not going to do it for you. They figured him out. They know his game,” Smith said.