With the possibility of the New York Knicks trading for Donovan Mitchell seeming somewhat realistic, this question must be asked: Should the Knicks keep Julius Randle if they manage to trade for Mitchell?
While this scenario could work both ways, I believe it would be best to move on from Randle. This is because not only will it free up the ball for both Mitchell and RJ Barrett, but it will also give more minutes to Obi Toppin if he stays in New York.
The argument to keep or move on from Randle can go both ways regardless of if the Knicks pull off a trade for Mitchell or not. And while Randle has been a negative in two out of his three seasons with the team, he still has the potential to turn things around.
Here is why the Knicks should consider moving on from Julius Randle if they trade for Donovan Mitchell
At the end of the day, the simplest reason why the Knicks should trade Randle in the scenario of a Donovan Mitchell trade is because of what I previously mentioned. It will free up the ball for the newly acquired Mitchell, while also making room for both Barrett and Jalen Brunson as well as other players on the team.
In addition to this, Randle makes a lot of money, as he’ll make $23.7 million in 2022-23. If they decide to trade for Mitchell, they will have a lot of money on their hands with the Brunson contract, Mitchell Robinson extension, and the $30 million that Donovan Mitchell is due to make next season. Not to mention the eventual contract extension that Barrett is owed, which could total over $30 million a year.
Despite how poorly Russell Westbrook would fit on the team, the Knicks could potentially swing a trade for him in a swap for Randle to eventually buy Westbrook out. This move would clear up a ridiculous amount of cap space for the Knicks. However, this is unlikely, as Westbrook would probably not accept a buyout, but if this scenario were to become a possibility, the Knicks should highly consider it.
While keeping Randle could absolutely work, as I believe that he could thrive in an off-ball system, the odds of accepting this are not only potentially slim, but the contract implications cause a Randle trade to make sense.
Alongside this, Randle’s lack of shooting would make the spacing for the lineup a little more complicated. If he can somehow go back to his 2020-21 form where he shot 40% from three, the Knicks would greatly benefit. The odds of this are very small, as Randle has been a bad shooter throughout his entire career outside of that one season.
The combination of Randle and Robinson in the frontcourt could hurt the Knicks’ offensive efficiency greatly, as their combined lack of spacing would clog the paint up. That’d make it difficult for Barrett, Mitchell, and Brunson to find open lanes to the rim.
If the Knicks were to trade Randle, it would also free up room for third-year player Obi Toppin. He’s a player who showed a ton of promise when given big minutes last season. Replacing Randle with Toppin would not only speed up the offense, but Toppin is also a better shooter while also having the potential to be much better than Randle.
At the end of the day, it is all up to the Knicks organization on what they decide to do with Randle if they trade for Mitchell. While things could work on the court, complications off the court could derail a successful run with Randle on the team.