The latest trade rumors coming out of Gotham suggest that the New York Knicks are looking to deal power forward Julius Randle to the Miami Heat.
The Knicks are 6-7 and embarking on a five-game road trip against Western Conference teams, but if they continue to falter, there’s a chance that Randle is no longer with the team by the time they return to New York City before Thanksgiving.
The Heat started the season 2-5, but have since gone 5-2 in their last seven games to pull even at 7-7.
The Heat want to upgrade their front line, especially at power forward. Jae Crowder from the Phoenix Suns has been linked to trade rumors involving Heat guard Max Strus.
Sean Devaney from Heavy Sports reported that an anonymous front office executive mentioned the Heat would trade guard Duncan Robinson, center Omer Yurtseven, and rookie big man Nikola Jovic to the Knicks in exchange for Randle.
NBA executive links Julius Randle to the Miami Heat
“Miami is probably the big team that will be looking for a power forward and he would at least be interesting there with Bam and Jimmy Butler.”
(Via @SeanDeveney ) pic.twitter.com/78Fn58UfXX
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) November 14, 2022
Knicks Can’t Defend the Trey
The Knicks missed out on adding All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell in a trade with the Utah Jazz. Mitchell headed to the Cleveland Cavs in a blockbuster trade when they outbid the Knicks. The Knicks missed out on Mitchell, but they finally acquired a top-end point guard when they signed Jalen Brunson in free agency.
The Knicks had high hopes entering this season especially after jumping out to a 3-1 start. However, it’s been the old Knicks since late October. The Knicks are 3-6 over their last nine games and have one of the worst defenses in the NBA. They allow 116.5 points per game as the sixth-worst scoring defense in the NBA.
The Knicks recently gave up 145 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who dominated the Knicks on their home court at Madison Square Garden. The loss was an embarrassment to head coach Tom Thibodeau, who was once considered the top defensive head coaches in the league.
In the modern NBA, the top title contenders are excellent 3-point shooting teams and also defend the 3-pointer. The current Knicks are among the worst in the league in both categories. Fans think getting rid of Randle in a trade could help the Knicks improve in both categories.
The Knicks knocked down only 32.5% of their 3-pointer this season for third-worst in the NBA. Their perimeter defense is awful. The Knicks allow a league-worst 39.1 3-point shots per game. Opponents hit 14.1 treys per game against the Knicks, which is second-worst in the NBA.
Another Randle Slump
During the 2020-21 season with the Knicks, Randle drilled a career-high 41.1% from 3-point land while averaging a personal high of 24.4 points per game. With Randle playing the best ball of his career, he led the Knicks to the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Knicks were knocked out of the first round of the playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks when Randle went ice cold.
Last season, Randle slumped and the Knicks missed the playoffs. He shot only 30.8% from 3-point range while averaging 20.1 points per game.
The Knicks hoped Randle would snap out of his shooting funk and bounce back this season. He’s slightly better from deep connecting on 33.3% of his shots from beyond the arc, but he’s only averaging 20.8 points per game.
Something feels off with Julius Randle, who began the season ping-ponging around the court and has since reverted to old habits,” wrote Fred Katz, a Knicks beat writer from The Athletic. “For a second straight season, the first unit is a problem.”
Randle’s stats are troubling because he’s in the first season of a four-year contract extension that’s worth $117 million. In the case of Randle, the Knicks’ most expensive player is a defensive liability and cannot consistently hit 3-pointers. It’s only 13 games into this season, and fans are preparing themselves for another long and disappointing season if the Knicks do not trade Randle.
Knicks Better with Obi Toppin Instead of Randle?
Since the start of last season, the Knicks’ second unit often looked better than the starting five. Their success was attributed to the simple fact that the Knicks move the ball better without Randle on the floor. The offense grew stagnant with Randle dribbling too much and settling for bad shots, but the offense flowed better with the second unit.
Fans at MSG have been clamoring over Thibodeau not giving Obi Toppin more playing time. The Knicks selected Toppin with the #8 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft out of Dayton. The backup forward averages 10.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game off the bench in under 18 minutes of playing time per game. He’s also knocking down a career-best 40% of his 3-point attempts this season.
Toppin had the opportunity to start ten games last season, and thrived replacing Randle in the lineup. He averaged 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and three assists per game as a starter. He shot 57.1% overall from the floor, including an impressive 43.6% shooting from beyond the arc.
In the season finale last year, Toppin erupted for a career-high 42 points.
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