Julius Randle and Kevin Knox should go ahead and accept their fates right now: until something actually happens, the pair of New York Knickerbockers are going to be the face of trade rumors all offseason long.
According to Jonathan Marci of Knicks Film School, the New York Knicks are reportedly preparing a trade offer that would center around Randle and Knox being shipped off to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a deal that would bring Chris Paul to the Big Apple.
Here’s what Macri had to say in about the situation in his Free Agent Frenzy newsletter from Monday:
“According to multiple sources familiar with the Knicks thinking, New York is readying initial offers to potentially bring the Point God to the Mecca. Julius Randle and Kevin Knox are two names I’m hearing are involved in internal discussions. I’m also told that Paul’s preference will play into his eventual destination, and his connection with Leon Rose is a factor.”
This isn’t even the first time in the last five days that a potential Paul-to-New York trade has been discussed. Scoop Robinson recently wrote on Twitter that the Knicks were expressing interest in adding Paul, while Ian Begley of SNY said back in April that there are members within the organization who think bringing in Paul would “jumpstart” the team to start winning with a young core around him.
Paul’s one year in OKC feels all but over with, considering many–Paul likely included–didn’t think he’d even make it to February of this past season before being traded. Ultimately, the 35-year old was the best player on a Thunder team that shocked the entirety of the NBA world and took the Houston Rockets to a seven-game first-round series inside the Orlando Bubble. But after the franchise parted ways with head coach Billy Donovan, Paul’s departure feels even more inevitable as the Thunder look to hand Shai Gilgeous-Alexander the keys to the future.
But let’s get back to the Randle/Knox aspect of this rumor.
Randle came to New York on a short-term, three-year deal last summer with the expectations that he could step in as the team’s primary scorer. And while that technically worked out, Randle was much less efficient compared to his previous two seasons with the Pelicans and Lakers. It quickly became clear that he can’t be the No. 1 option on a playoff team right now. As for Knox, he’s been underwhelming through his first two seasons as a pro, although not necessarily due to his own shortcomings. This past season, the Knicks refused to play it’s younger players in favor of aging veterans despite the outcome showing up as an “L” either way. While Knox’s stats from year one to year two cratered, there is no denying that he would benefit from a coaching staff that was more invested in him. The Knicks just need to decide if they want to be that team.
(Note: if anyone is going to get the most out of Knox, new Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau would be one of the few to bet on.)
I say all of this to clarify that I don’t think Randle and Knox would be nearly enough for OKC to budge. Picks are undoubtedly being discussed as well, but Paul’s value (which will pay him $85 million over the next two seasons by the time he is 37) has to be considered if you’re New York. His play during the Bubble was reminiscent of his early playing days, but is that something the Knicks could expect for an entire season when he’s 36 and 37 years of age? How much of their young core would New York be willing to give up for him?
Macri stated in his newsletter that he doesn’t anticipate the Knicks trading away any piece they believe to be too valuable–RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, first-round picks, etc.–if Paul is the prize. Realistically, outside of Barrett, Robinson (both higher-tier prospects), Randle, and Knox (mid-tier prospects), the Knicks don’t really have any valuable assets that would boost a trade that focuses solely on Randle and Knox. OKC is going to want picks and young players. From the sounds of it, that doesn’t match up with what New York can, or wants to, offer. For what it’s worth, Macri put the probability of Paul landing with the Knicks at “under 50 percent”. When was the last time the Knicks pulled off any trade that actually helped them, anyway?
But if one thing needs to be loud and clear, it’s this: the Knicks are–and have been–actively searching for trade partners that would take Randle and Knox off of their hands. Those two former Wildcats have had their names pop up in trade rumors since they arrived in New York. Even with Kenny Payne in the fold, it doesn’t appear they’ll be in New York much longer unless something changes. At this point, they deserve better. And how cool would it be to potentially watch SGA, Knox, Randle, Hamidou Diallo, and Nerlens Noel (granted they aren’t traded in the process) suit up for one team?