Is it time to end the Julius Randle experiment?
The Knicks front office and fans alike have lusted after Julius Randle for a few years now. And then last summer, in lieu of a free agency splash like landing superstar duo Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Randle was the marquee free agent New York brought in.
He signed a three-year deal worth $63-million, following a career year with the New Orleans Pelicans. But his fit, like most things Knicks this season, hasn’t been picture perfect.
New York started the year with David Fizdale as head coach, and he went to work with Randle in a point-forward role for the Knicks, playing number one option in their offense. And while he does have some above-average passing tendencies (for a big man), turnovers were a huge issue.
Then the David Fizdale firing came, and Mike Miller was promoted from the Knicks’ G-League affiliate coach to actual team coach. (Jury is still out on which group had more talent.)
But his play hasn’t improved all that well, and there’s a strong enough argument that giving Randle such a large role has served as a hindrance to their youth projects’ development.
This raises the ultimate question of how the Knicks and their starting four can move forward.
Or if they do, period.
The trade market is likely to be slim for Randle, but at $21 million AAV he’s also not a guy that you let sit on the bench collecting “DNP’s-Coach Decision.” He’s a good basketball player, and if the Knicks do their due diligence there’s surely to be a handful of teams willing to take him on.
One team that makes sense is the Phoenix Suns, who could use any kind of consistency at the power forward slot. And rumor has it Dario Saric won’t be coming back next season, making their need at that starting slot all the more prevalent.
Salary is the biggest issue, as is always the case with New York and these poor investments. But if they’re not going to find value for Randle, it may even be worth it to offer up draft compensation, or a young piece that doesn’t fit the team, like Allonzo Trier, as a sweetener.