Knicks Trade Rumors: Julius Randle 'Off Limits' in Talks Not Involving Stars

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2021

New York Knicks' Julius Randle during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

A breakout season has made Julius Randle indispensable for the New York Knicks.

Ian Begley of SNY reported Randle will be "off limits in any talks" unless they can get a top player in return for a trade. The team reportedly considers him an "essential" part of the organization going forward along with RJ Barrett.

Randle is averaging 22.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game this season, all career highs on his way to his first All-Star selection.

The production has changed the mindset surrounding the forward, who was initially considered a quality trade chip after his hot start to the year. The squad was just 11-15 to begin the season and expectations remained low after going seven straight years without a playoff appearance.

Randle's $19.8 million salary for 2021-22 is only partially guaranteed, providing low risk for an acquiring team.

The 26-year-old had played well in his first season in New York with averages of 19.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, but he seemed more likely to be a stopgap before younger players in the rebuild can take over.

His high level of play in 2020-21 combined with the Knicks' overall success means the team is no longer certain sellers ahead of the March 25 deadline. New York entered Friday with a 19-19 record, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference. 

Randle has also said he wants to remain in New York long term.

"When I came here almost two years ago, that was the plan," he said earlier this month, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. "I wanted to be here long term. I want to be a Knick. So my thoughts never changed. I would definitely love to be here long term."

It could be an ideal fit for both sides unless a dream trade opportunity comes along for the Knicks.