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REPORT: Trading Julius Randle will be top priority for Knicks

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Cautious optimism abounds!

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New York Knicks Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The first order of business for the Knicks this offseason will be trading Julius Randle, with one potential scenario involving shipping him to the Utah Jazz for Mike Conley Jr. and draft consideration, according to a new report from KnicksFanTV.

Before we pop champagne and release confetti from the rafters, it’s important to note that, so far, this is just one report that hasn’t been confirmed by any of the team’s main beat reporters. Still, the fellas over at KnicksFanTV don’t seem like the types who would spout nonsense for clicks, so this feels like legit smoke for a potential *fire* trade in the future.

The Randle talk is early in the video contained within that Tweet, but here’s the breakdown for those who refuse to listen and just want to read words that have been typed: the top priority for the Knicks this offseason will be trading Randle, and the first rumor being bandied about is a deal with the Utah Jazz centered around Conley.

You may remember Conley as the guy who struggled to jibe with the Jazz after last year’s blockbuster trade before actually playing pretty well in the bubble but then ultimately missing the potential game-winner a few days back against the Denver Nuggets.

The 32-year-old point guard is coming off his 13th year in the NBA and is due $34.5 million next season (if he opts in, which he will if he isn’t a dummy). But next year is the final season of his contract, meaning if the Knicks do land Conley they could insert him as the starting point guard for one season and then either see if he’ll sign a reasonable deal or let him walk.

The Jazz are expected to lock up Donovan Mitchell with a five-year max extension as soon as they possibly can, and it would be surprising if Utah decided not to try and retain two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, so Conley seems the most likely of the big names to be given the boot.

Might the Jazz see Randle as a good fit with those two? For all grief Randle has gotten since joining New York, the truth remains that he was put in a tricky position when the Knicks made him their biggest free agent acquisition last summer with a three-year, $62 million contract.

Randle didn’t work as the top dog, but he could be a solid third pup. He’d slide in as a top three scorer on the team (Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic each averaged more than Randle’s 19.5 points per game) and top two board man (only Gobert averaged more than Randle’s 9.7 rebounds per game). Another big guy who can get buckets could enable Mitchell to relax on offense every once in awhile, and Randle’s defensive deficiencies wouldn’t shine as bright next to Gobert, who is a more seasoned defender than Mitchell Robinson.

The Jazz have four second round picks in the upcoming draft, so maybe one or two of those picks is what is being alluded to as “draft consideration.”

Now, Randle will only make $18.9 million next season compared to Conley’s $34.5 million, which means more players would need to be involved in this hypothetical trade to make the salaries match. And this is only one rumor, so there’s no guarantee the Jazz even actually want Randle. But such a trade would give the Knicks the go-ahead to let Elfrid Payton become a free agent while not putting so much pressure on Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. (and maybe some rookie they draft) to run the squad.

Whether or not the Knicks end up trading for Conley is very much up in the air, but the mere fact that we’re hearing that Leon Rose is looking to deal Randle is the latest sign that there might be some competence in the new front office. And that alone is cause for cautious optimism.