According to a new report, two of the more notable mid-tier free-agent signings last summer — New York Knicks big man Julius Randle and Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier — could be on the move before Thursday’s trade deadline.
On Monday, Ian Begley of SportsNet New York cited the publication’s sources, writing that the two aforementioned teams have discussed a trade involving several players from both sides, including the Knicks’ Randle and Dennis Smith Jr. and the Hornets’ Rozier and Malik Monk. It wasn’t made clear whether both parties plan to swap their respective players in a straight-up trade or whether a third team will be involved, but Begley emphasized that New York and Charlotte recently “touched base” on the matter, adding that it’s also unclear whether the organizations have made progress with their discussions.
As of this writing, both the Knicks and the Hornets are among the bottom four teams in the Eastern Conference, with the Hornets’ 16-34 record good for 12th place. Rozier, who signed a three-year, $58 million contract with Charlotte last summer, is enjoying a career year, averaging 18 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists and shooting 42 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from three-point range, per Basketball-Reference. He has, however, mostly been playing slightly out of position due to the emergence of Devonte’ Graham as the Hornets’ breakout star at point guard.
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Randle, on the other hand, is enjoying another productive season in his first year in New York after inking a three-year, $63 million deal. Although he has posted averages of 18.9 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists so far, he is shooting only 44.9 percent from the field for a Knicks organization that is 13th in the Eastern Conference with a 15-36 record, according to the team’s Basketball-Reference page.
Should Randle be traded to the Hornets or elsewhere before Thursday’s deadline, this would mark his third move in the last three seasons after previously playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans.
As pointed out by SNY’s Begley, the Knicks appear to be in the market for a lead playmaker, hence their rumored interest in Rozier. The team, however, has reportedly inquired about other options as they hope to upgrade the point guard position, including D’Angelo Russell of the Golden State Warriors and Dennis Schroder of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Regarding the possibility of a third team facilitating the purported New York-Charlotte trade, Begley explained that Smith, who is averaging just 5.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists with a 34.4 percent shooting clip from the field, has long been linked to the Minnesota Timberwolves.