Ever since the New York Knicks drafted Obi Toppin, questions arose as it pertains to Julius Randle’s future with the team. Both Toppin and Randle typically play the four spot, though there is a possibility the Knicks could stick Toppin at the three. However, unless the Knicks expect to fight for a playoff spot, trading Randle, who has a contract is set to expire following the 2021-22 season, seems imminent.
Randle isn’t exactly a star, but he is a talented player and has shown ability to carry the load for a team on the offensive end should the need arise. If the Knicks decide to go all-in on Toppin at the four, trading Randle now or at some point before the Trade Deadline would likely guarantee their best possible return package for the 26-year old.
Here are five teams that could use a player like Randle on their team. These are mostly contending teams, being that he’s likely to test his value in free agency down the line. Therefore, he would ideally be traded to a team with a win-now situation.
5. Houston Rockets
One of the more active teams during the 2020-21 free agency period, the Houston Rockets have done everything in their power to convince James Harden to remain with them. At this time, it doesn’t seem like their efforts have worked. They have acquired John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, but don’t appear to be conceding in their efforts.
Randle would certainly add to that equation. He would fit right in with Wall and Cousins and could be a solid piece for the team; with or without Harden on the roster. However, there is likely no “Harden to the Knicks” deal to be had in trading Randle, but the Knicks could attempt to stack up on a first-round pick package with another solid contributor. Not to mention, a first-round selection may seem like a low value pick for Randle, but the Rockets are a Harden trade and Wall injury away from potentially being a lottery pick.
4. Milwaukee Bucks
Similarly to the Rockets’ ordeal with their star, the Bucks are looking to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to remain with their team for years to come. The team made a solid first step in signing Jrue Holiday and nearly acquired Bogdan Bogdanovic via sign-and-trade before that deal fell through. Their two noteworthy signings afterwards followed in Bobby Portis and DJ Augustin.
Aside from that, the Bucks appear to have more work to do if they hope to knock off a team like the Brooklyn Nets or Los Angeles Lakers during the playoffs in their route to a championship. Bringing in someone like Randle could further their quest at the title, making it more likely for them to keep Anteokounmpo with the team. Randle would be another talent that could add to their offensive power and already has some chemistry with Holiday after their time in New Orleans.
3. Charlotte Hornets
I understand the Hornets shouldn’t necessarily be considered a playoff contender yet, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. After years of mediocrity, the Hornets appear to be all-in at forming the best roster they can. The signing of Gordan Hayward says a lot about their expectations and adding Randle to the equation with LaMelo Ball could make the Hornets a team to watch.
One of Randle’s biggest criticisms is his inability to make the players around him better. While he is a great scorer, he shouldn’t be relied on as a playmaker. Under the currently constructed roster, that pressure would be completely off of him. He would also have Bismack Biyombo accompanying him in the front court to take off pressure from the defensive end. He would be able to focus on his strengths and feed off the passing ability of Ball.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
Ideally, the perfect 76ers lineup would likely be with Ben Simmons at the four with a jump shot, while also having a dynamic playmaking point guard running the ball up the court. As of this moment though, neither of those two things are guaranteed to come anytime soon. Simmons is still an excellent passer and has immense value running point guard.
Due to his inability to knock down jump shots though, the 76ers are best suited with offensive weapons all around. The Sixers knew this, which is why they went out of their way to acquire Seth Curry and Danny Green amongst others. Randle would slot in perfect in-between Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris while playing the four. Randle would be able to feed off of Simmons. Many believe that Randle would be most valuable as the third option on a team, and with a loaded squad around him, that could possibly come to fruition in Philadelphia.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
This one may seem obvious, but this isn’t a team that has been rumored to be interested in doing business with the Knicks as it pertains to Randle. Diving into it, however, this could be a match made in heaven.
The Clippers were favored to win the NBA Finals last season, before their monumental collapse to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals. They aren’t receiving many predictions in their favor as it pertains to winning the Finals this time around. The team also had a relatively failed offseason, with acquiring Serge Ibaka being their only real noteworthy move.
The team also lost their Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell to their rival across the hall in Staples Center. While Ibaka does alleviate some of that loss, the point remains that the Clippers didn’t do much of anything to better themselves.
Randle could potentially be one of the missing pieces in helping them be a legitimate threat to the Lakers. As a third option or alongside Lou Williams on the bench, Randle would add another element to the team that shouldn’t be overlooked. The Clippers have a lot of supplemental pieces on the bench, but Randle would provide some much-needed stability.