The New York Knicks have made their opening move of the 2019 free agency season, nabbing big man Julius Randle with a three-year deal, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
Free agent Julius Randle has agreed to a three-year, $63M deal with the New York Knicks, CAA agents Aaron Mintz and Steve Heumann tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
But wait! That three-year deal is actually two years plus a team option, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes.
The three-year, $63 million deal Julius Randle agreed to with the New York Knicks contains a team option on the final year, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 30, 2019
That team option is a huge deal, as it allows the Knicks the flexibility to clear him off the books a year early. The 2020 free agent class is notoriously thin, and 2021 is likely to be stronger.
Randle is an offensive savant at the power forward position. Last season he averaged 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Randle was one of just seven players to score at least 21 points on a true shooting percentage of at least 60%, joining the likes of James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kawhi Leonard and (sigh) Kevin Durant. And Randle has yet to turn 25, which makes him younger than everyone on that list except Giannis and KAT.
His main problem is on defense, as The Ringer’s Dan Devine pointed out in his free agency preview:
ESPN’s real plus-minus graded Randle as one of the least helpful big men in the league last season; opponents shot 64.7 percent at the rim with Randle contesting, which landed him 40th out of 48 bigs to defend at least four up-close tries a game.
Hopefully his defensive deficiencies can be mitigated somewhat by playing next to Mitchell Robinson. But this kid has some serious skills, and he could be just scratching the surface. Hopefully David Fizdale can help him reach his maximum potential.