The New York Knicks waited four days after the February 23 trade deadline to make a move.
The team waived veteran point guard Brandon Jennings on Monday morning, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical. To replace Jennings, the Knicks are set to re-sign former Philadelphia 76ers point guard and D-League standout Chasson Randle, Wojnarowski added in a separate tweet.
In 58 games (11 starts) this season, Jennings averaged 8.6 points and 4.9 assists in 24.6 minutes per game.
Jennings, 27, joined New York on a one-year, $5 million contract in the offseason as he looked to prove he was recovered from a torn Achilles tendon that sidelined him two years ago. The former Bucks, Pistons, and Magic guard told Al Iannazzone of Newsday he had no other offers and would’ve taken a lower salary to join the Knicks.
“When Phil [Jackson] called, I was like ‘Yo, I’m coming.’ It was a no-brainer… Shoot, I would have come here for a million,” Jennings said. “It didn’t matter. I just wanted to be in an NBA uniform and be somewhere where I had a chance to win, and New York City — why not?”
Jennings provided the Knicks with an immediate spark off the bench; he was praised by coaches and teammates for his playmaking and leadership. An early Sixth Man of the Year candidate, Jennings tied Greg Anthony and Roy Sparrow as former Knicks to record double-digits in assists thrice when he dished 11 dimes in a November 22 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Since then, Jennings went on to record a game of 10+ assists five additional times. While Jennings was not scoring the way he once did (averaged 16.5 points his first six seasons), he was an effective passer and facilitator for an offensive-minded Knicks team.
“I think my role is different with the fact that I’m playing with three All-Stars. KP [Kristaps Porzingis] is gonna be an All-Star, Melo, D-Rose… I don’t have to take on the role of scoring so much,” Jennings said in early December. “I can do other things to make the team better: play defense and provide a spark off the bench.”
Jennings also had no issue calling out himself or the team. After entering a Christmas day matchup against the Boston Celtics with a 16-13 record, the Knicks have gone 9-22 since. Earlier this month, Jennings called out the team for its poor play after a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“That’s the worst we’ve looked this season,” Jennings said after the game. “You can’t coach effort and energy. That’s something we should all have. We all make millions of dollars playing this game, so the least we can do is go out there and play hard every night. Regardless of who’s making shots or anything like that, just effort and energy, just leave it all out there on the court.”
The Knicks currently sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, four games out of a playoff spot. As Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated reported, Jennings asked to be released to he can join a playoff contender.
Randle, 24, went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft but made strong efforts in the summer league, D-League, and preseason. Randle missed the final three preseason games after suffering a left orbital fracture and was among the final roster cuts before the season.
At the time, Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek praised Randle and hoped to see him don the Knicks blue and orange in the future.
“Chasson, he’s done a great job for us,” he said. “We hope all these guys get other jobs and other teams pick them up, but our hope is if he doesn’t go to another team he stays with our organization. We really liked what he did for us.”
Recap of @ChassonRandle‘s weekend beyond the arc:
— Westchester Knicks (@wcknicks) December 19, 2016
With the Westchester Knicks, Randle several 30-plus point efforts before signing with the 76ers and making eight appearances. He averaged 5.3 points in less than 10 minutes per game in Philadelphia. After losing a roster spot many believed he earned due to injury, Randle — whose contract is for the rest of this season and a partial guarantee for 2017-18 — will get a look in New York.
[Featured Image by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]