Grade the Trade: Knicks flip All-Star for Timberwolves big man in howling proposal

The New York Knicks could use a second offensive star to pair with Jalen Brunson. Would this deal to flip Julius Randle for Karl-Anthony Towns do the trick?
Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves / Tim Heitman/GettyImages
2 of 3

Laying out a trade for Karl-Anthony Towns

The Minnesota Timberwolves swept the star-laden Phoenix Suns and then took down MVP Nikola Jokic and the defending-champion Denver Nuggets in seven games. The end of the line came in the Western Conference Finals, when Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks overwhelmed them in five games to end their magical season.

The Timberwolves now enter the season in financial chains, surging above the second tax apron as lucrative new contracts kick in for Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and Jalen McDaniels. They have to look for a way to improve their team, maintain their bench production and have a long-term financial plan to get out of the second tax apron before the most draconian restrictions begin.

While there are a few tiny moves they could make on the margins, the most likely path available to them is to trade Karl-Anthony Towns. He is a player long linked to the Knicks because he is represented by CAA and would represent a way for New York to increase their offensive firepower while not spending all of their assets. Is there a deal to be made here?

Let's look at this version of a trade, which would keep draft picks out of it and purely swap players:

KAT Randle deal

Because the Timberwolves are above the second tax apron, they cannot take back more money than they are sending out. At the same time, however, most of the teams they will be trading with are expensive on their own right, so the salary numbers will need to be close. What the Wolves would be trading for here and in general as they shop Towns is a deal that keeps them expensive this year but would allow relief in the years to come. Both Randle and Bogdanovic will be free agents next summer (Randle if he declines his player option) giving the Wolves options after this year.

Julius Randle is a solid offensive player best deployed as the second option (or even third) rather than the No. 1 option. Joining a team like Minnesota would slot him comfortably in beside Anthony Edwards, and he would be something of a "Towns-lite" on offense while bringing more defensive versatility as a switch defender. Bogdanovic is an elite shooter who would offer a complement to Kyle Anderson on bench units. After one year, the Wolves can re-sign one or both to smaller or deals or let both walk to maximize their financial breathing space.

The Wolves likely want a first-round pick (or more) added to the deal, but it's not unreasonable to start with this construction given the massive amount of money owed to Towns over the four years of this supermax extension. Let's assume that the Wolves say yes, either to this deal or one where the Knicks add one of their lower-rung first-round picks.

Should New York make this trade?