After a subpar and boring draft night, Knicks fans spent much of their team’s offseason wondering about potential Donovan Mitchell trades and asking themselves all kinds of questions. Who else would the Knicks trade? What will the remaining roster look like? How good even is a team headlined by Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Brunson? Well, fans can put all those questions aside now, as Mitchell isn’t going to be suiting up for the Knicks But now we must ask ourselves: what now? Where does this team — one that still has draft capital, young pieces, and an imperfect roster — go in an attempt to return to the playoffs after an incredibly disappointing 2021-22 season?
First and foremost, the team must continue to explore trades for Julius Randle. There were reports that the team had already looked in to doing this, but it seems to be a difficult task. This isn’t to say that the team needs to trade Randle at all costs. Despite playing some very inefficient and frustrating basketball last season, Randle is just a year removed from being an All-Star and being on the All-NBA second team. While he may never reach those peaks again, there may still be some hope that a motivated Randle could become a very solid and productive player again.
Can Randle take a bit of a backseat to the newly signed Brunson and be more of a roller and a secondary playmaker? If he can do that — much like his time with the Pelicans, where he averaged 21.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 3.1 APG on 52.4% from the field — it would be an ideal fit. But that is a big if. Outside of his lone year with the Pelicans and his career year in 2020-21, Randle has been, for the most part, the same player. It’s unlikely that Randle regains his touch from three and mid-range that he had two years ago. And that is why it may behoove the Knicks to trade Randle. Doing so would free up space for Obi Toppin, and force coach Tom Thibodeau to play the young forward. It’d also give the team a fresh start as they look to fully embrace a light rebuild.
Secondly, the team should look to trade Evan Fournier. Accomplishing this won’t be any easier than finding a taker for Randle as he is owed $55 million over the next three seasons. But if the Knicks could unload Fournier for a player who might make more money with fewer years on his contract, it would help the Knicks remain flexible in the search for the next disgruntled star. This, like a potential Randle trade, would also free up space for the team’s stable of young guards. There were rumors that the Knicks didn’t want to trade Quentin Grimes, meaning that the team might already be planning to slot him in as a starter this season.
Regardless of the Grimes situation, it makes little sense for a team that will most likely be fighting for a very low playoff seed to hang on to a veteran who won’t be a part of their future plans. Fournier’s elite outside shooting could still entice contending teams looking to add spacing to make a last-minute move. While it seems unlikely right now, they should explore all options for a Fournier trade.
The Knicks also need to decide what kind of role Cam Reddish has — or doesn’t have — on this team. Reddish, at just 23 years old, is still someone with a lot of potential. He may be raw and unpolished but we’ve all seen just how gifted he is. Whether it’s his natural and smooth shooting touch, or his next-level athleticism that allows him to seemingly glide past defenses, or his length, there’s something there. But as the Atlanta Hawks and their fans learned, it’s all about consistency with Reddish. Both physically and mentally, the young wing doesn’t always seem to be fully engaged. We’ve seen players like that that never fully put it together. For all we know, Reddish could suffer the same fate. But there’s still a chance that with more mentoring and maturing, along with a more consistent and larger role, he could blossom into what many fans and scouts saw when he was coming out of Duke.
But for him to have the opportunity to grow, the front office and Thibodeau need to get on the same page regarding his role. As much as we’d all hate to see him go to another team and blossom, it’s pretty meaningless to stash him on this team if he is going to play sparingly. While guys like Toppin and Quickley didn’t get as much playing time as fans wanted, at least they had consistent minutes and a role they could count on. We couldn’t even say that about Reddish in his limited time with the Knicks last season.
A lot of the media has been questioning the Knicks’ front office moves this summer, but the team still has done a lot of good over the last few months. They finally got the point guard of their future by securing Brunson to a 4-year deal. They extended RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, and even added Isaiah Hartenstein in one of the better bargains of the off-season. Sure, the Knicks struck out on Mitchell, but that’s OK. They kept their picks and a young core. So while the overall offseason so far would probably grade out as average, they still have time to make a few moves and put this team in a really solid position going forward.