What Donovan Mitchell’s possible arrival to Knicks could mean for Julius Randle

For the New York Knicks fans out there who are (im)patiently waiting for Julius Randle to be traded, your wish could come true this summer. Right now, the focus is what’s going to happen with Donovan Mitchell, but once a decision on that becomes clear, Randle’s future could then be determined.

There’s a reported belief that the Utah Jazz are interested in Quentin Grimes (subscription required), but other than that, there hasn’t been a specified interest in what Knicks players the Jazz may want. Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Deuce McBride, and Cam Reddish have been brought up, but there seems to be a chance that New York’s working to hold onto Toppin.

According to Marc Stein (subscription required), if the Knicks can bring Mitchell to the Mecca, New York could then look at trade options for Randle. And there’s an option that involves Russell Westbrook, but don’t jump to conclusions just yet.

A Donovan Mitchell-Knicks trade could lead to a Julius Randle-Lakers trade

Here’s what Stein wrote about a potential Randle trade:

We’ve been writing on this Substack for months that the Lakers do not want to attach future first-round picks to a Russell Westbrook trade just to facilitate Westbrook’s departure … but also that the Lakers are wary of taking back long-term salary that hampers future flexibility. Yet one league source advised me in Las Vegas to keep an eye on the Knicks and Lakers discussing a potential Westbrook deal if — IF — Leon Rose can successfully bring Donovan Mitchell to Madison Square Garden. The source’s thinking: After adding Mitchell, New York would be expected to explore scenarios to trade away Julius Randle

So, Randle would be making his way back to Los Angeles, but only if the Lakers can’t use Russell Westbrook’s $47.1 million in a trade for Kyrie Irving. But as Stein wrote, using Westbrook in an Irving trade is Los Angeles’ preference.

And no, don’t expect the Knicks’ master plan to be a Jalen Brunson-Westbrook backcourt. Or to have Westbrook coming off the bench. New York would likely buyout his contract after offloading Randle’s four-year, $117 million deal that’s set to kick in at the start of 2022-23.

There were Westbrook-Knicks rumors floating around in the second half of the 2021-22 season, but Leon Rose had his sights set on Brunson. For the first time in a long time, New York has its point guard of the future.

Presumably, the Knicks are concerned about Mitchell and Randle sharing the floor together. There’s also Toppin, who’s been overshadowed by Randle since he was drafted in 2020. Trading Randle would open up a starting spot for Toppin, who’s capable of being an NBA starter.

If this is a plan that New York’s pursuing, it says a lot about the direction that the front office is headed in. Taj Gibson is gone and Randle could be next. That’d leave Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose (if they aren’t sent to Utah).

It turns out that maybe the Knicks are going to let the young guys cook after all.