7 Knicks free agent targets with ties to Julius Randle

Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images /
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New York Knicks
Julius Randle, New Orleans Pelicans, Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) – New York Knicks /

Knicks Free Agent Target No. 1: Kyle Kuzma, Combo Forward

Every player on this list has some major hurdle to signing with the New York Knicks, from finances to team fit to the likelihood they want to keep playing in Spain (I’ll let you guess who that was). Kyle Kuzma manages to hit on all of those hurdles: he is going to command a large salary this summer, he plays the same position as his old teammate Julius Randle, and he is considered likely to re-sign with his current team, the Washington Wizards.

Kuzma was drafted late in the first round in 2017 by the Los Angeles Lakers, three years after they drafted Julius Randle. The two were together for one season, often starting together in a small frontcourt at the 4 and the 5, respectively. After Randle left and the Lakers added LeBron James, Kuzma increased his off-ball skills and his defense. Upon landing in Washington, he has taken a huge step in playmaking and creating his own shot. He’s now something of a complete player, not a highly-efficient superstar but a player largely without any glaring weaknesses.

That kind of player could be an awesome fit on the Knicks, but the problem is that Randle is entrenched as the 4 and doesn’t offer the rim protection needed for him to play center. Earlier in his career, he survived on defense in a switch-heavy scheme that he and Kuzma did well with, but Randle has lost a step and is no longer competent in a switch scheme. Adding Kuzma might mean moving on from Randle.

If not, however, the Knicks might try to make it work with Kuzma at the 3. That would give the Knicks a lot of size and a tertiary shot creator. It’s not a perfect fit, but Kuzma’s desire to play for a contender and/or in a big city certainly gives the Knicks an opportunity to woo him if they decide to go down that path.

Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma played together on those 2017-18 Lakers, like so many other players on this list. Randle has only been on three teams, but the relationships he built on those teams could allow the Knicks a way to connect with a number of free agents and potentially find an upgrade for the team moving forward.