An argument against the Knicks trading Julius Randle for Russell Westbrook

Apr 5, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

In recent weeks, there have been rumors about the New York Knicks having an interest in possibly trading Julius Randle for point guard Russell Westbrook (subscription required). However, it’d be in the best interest of the Knicks organization to not trade for Westbrook because he presents the same problems on offense as Randle in turnovers and three-point shooting.

The Knicks need to pump the brakes on these trade talks unless it guarantees that they will be trading for Utah Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.

Despite the excitement of star power possibly coming to New York for the first time since Carmelo Anthony was traded from Denver in 2011, Westbrook is not worth investing assets in because the team is not one player away from becoming a championship team.

The Knicks shouldn’t be interested in a Julius Randle-Russell Westbrook trade

Swapping Randle for Westbrook does not improve the team in any way because the Knicks would be adding a player with the same offensive style as Randle.

During the 2021-22 season, Westbrook had 3.8 possessions of iso with a frequency of 17.2%, averaging 3.4 points and 1.4 field goals made on 2.8 attempts. On the other hand, Randle’s frequency was 21%. He averaged 4.2 points and 1.5 field goals made on 3.9 attempts, shooting 39.4%.

Trading for Westbrook would not improve New York’s offensive issues because he needs the ball to be effective, and there are already two players in the backcourt, RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson, that are ball-dominant players.

Westbrook was not able to adjust his game alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, which should be a red flag for the Knicks’ management to stay away. Bringing in Westbrook could cause potential problems because of his inability to change his role. This would be dangerous for the growth of RJ Barrett in becoming a perennial All-Star because the offense would not revolve around him.

Plus, Westbrook’s inability to be an effective three-point shooter makes him an immediate liability on offense. As a result, this should make it easy for New York executive Leon Rose to hang up the phone quickly.

In his 14 years in the league, Westbrook is a career 30.5 % three-point shooter. With the Lakers, he shot 29.8%. On the other hand, Randle wasn’t any better from the arc in the 2021-22 season because he shot 30.8%.

Because Westbrook refuses to change his role, his style will not translate into winning games for the Knicks because he tries to be someone who he’s not. What Westbrook should be doing to continue his career is prioritize becoming a corner three-point shooter, which is where Westbrook had his most success with the Lakers, making 23 out of 52 attempts.

Not only is Westbrook not willing to make any adjustments to improve the team’s offense, but he also continues to be a turnover machine.

Despite putting up quality numbers constantly in the box score, he finished second in the 2021-22 season in turnovers with 295 in 78 games. The only person who had more turnovers than him was Hawks guard Trae Young with 303. This past season, Randle was only a little better than Westbrook because he ranked seventh in turnovers with 245 in 72 games played.

As you can see, adding Westbrook to the Knicks would only make the issues the team currently has on offense worse.

Another cause for concern in adding Westbrook to New York’s roster is his free throw woes. After hovering around 80% in his first eight years, there has been a significant decline in the past couple of years. Westbrook, who was once a reliable free throw shooter, shot 66.7% percent in 2021-22 and 65.6 percent in 2020-21. This is an issue, especially for a player whose game is reliant on putting his head down and driving to the basket to create fouls.

Investing in Westbrook is something the front office should not consider because he refuses to adapt his game. His inability to be an effective ballhandler and his three-point shooting should force Leon Rose to proceed with caution after the Westbrook experiment failed in Los Angeles this past year.