The New York Knicks may be off to a surprisingly decent start, but that hasn’t stopped the rumors from swirling around their top scorer, Julius Randle, and his future with the team. The young big man has also found himself mentioned in various trade ideas over the past few weeks, including one that would send him to the Charlotte Hornets — a team with a lot of talent in the backcourt but considerably weaker when it comes to its frontcourt rotation.
As pointed out on Saturday by NBA Analysis Network, the Knicks are a team that might be in need of an upgrade at point guard. Although Elfrid Payton has been producing solidly as a starter and Immanuel Quickley has shown some promise off the bench, New York notably passed on Tyrese Haliburton — who eventually went to the Sacramento Kings — and used their No. 9 overall draft pick last year on forward Obi Toppin, who has been slowed down due to injuries. Meanwhile, the Hornets currently have a logjam in the backcourt, with Terry Rozier, Devonte’ Graham, and rookie LaMelo Ball all competing for significant minutes.
As suggested by the outlet, the Hornets could clear up the logjam at guard and address their lack of quality big men by acquiring Randle from the Knicks for Graham, center Cody Zeller, and a top-five protected first-round selection from the 2022 draft. The move, as noted, could give Charlotte a more balanced lineup while potentially helping them become more competitive in the Eastern Conference.
“Right now, Terry Rozier is playing at an extremely high level which makes him look like a key cog for the future. They signed him to a big deal in free agency so it would make sense to keep him around as the centerpiece. With the start that Julius Randle is off too, he would benefit the Hornets right away.”
According to his Basketball-Reference page, Randle is currently averaging 22.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 6.2 assists — all career-highs for the seven-year pro. He is also shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from beyond the arc — both of which represent improvements from the percentages he registered in the 2019-20 campaign.
As for the Knicks, NBA Analysis Network wrote that there is “nothing holding them back” at this point, as they remain competitive in the East thanks to their young core and defensive intensity. Graham, as pointed out, could step up as the skilled playmaker the Knicks have lacked for quite some time as he facilitates for the likes of R.J. Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and Toppin. He is, however, having some difficulty finding the net early in the 2020-21 season, averaging 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 6.4 assists but converting on just 33.2 percent of his field-goal attempts, per Basketball-Reference.