NBA Trade Rumors: A New York Knicks-Sacramento Kings Swap of Julius Randle and Harrison Barnes Would Be the Most Hilarious Bad Trade for Two Historically Inept Franchises

The New York Knicks have been consistently involved in trade rumors as they slog through another down season. The Sacramento Kings have been in the rumor mill themselves and have already made one terrible decision when they dealt away their best young player, Tyrese Haliburton.

Julius Randle has had a poor season thus far in New York, while Harrison Barnes has been on the trade block for weeks and could be following Haliburton out the door in Sacramento.

So with each franchise’s history of poor team building and awful decision-making, why wouldn’t they just swap problems and help each other create new ones?

The Knicks and Kings are both engaged in trade rumors

Sacramento got rid of Haliburton, so the Kings already have one checkmark on their bad trade list.

New York, meanwhile, is four deep on the bad free-agent signing list. They added Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, and Alec Burks over the offseason — none of whom have given the Knicks what they expected. The franchise also signed Randle to a four-year, $117 million extension.

The 27-year-old had a career year in 2020-21. Randle averaged more than 24 points, 10 rebounds, and added six assists per game on his way to making his first All-Star team, grabbing the league’s Most Improved Player Award, and earning a spot on the All-NBA’s Second Team.

This year has seen a decline in points, rebounds, assists, minutes, field-goal attempts, field-goal percentage, three-point attempts, three-point percentage, free throws, and free-throw shooting percentage. Not great for Julius.

Barnes, on the other hand, has been the opposite for the Kings. In his age-29 season, he’s averaging more than 16 points per game and shooting better than 40% from three for just the third time in his career. The UNC product also leads Sacramento in defensive rating.

As a 6-foot-8, two-way wing, Barnes would seemingly be a fit anywhere, and according to SI.com’s Chris Mannix, he’s available to all 29 other teams.

That sets the stage.

A Barnes-Randle swap would be the best worst trade of this year’s deadline

With both teams involved in trade rumors, a New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings trade involving Julius Randle and Harrison Barnes would be on brand for both inept franchises.
Julius Randle of the New York Knicks dribbles the ball while being defended by Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings. | Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Sacramento sent Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson along with Haliburton to Indiana for Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, and Jeremy Lamb. Upon arrival, Holiday immediately becomes the Kings’ best deep threat.

Center Richaun Holmes is the only other player on the roster shooting at least 40% from three, and he averages 0.1 attempts from deep per night. Before Haliburton and Hield were traded, Sacramento still only shot 34.4% from three as a team.

Now both have are gone in favor of a low-post threat in Domas. Who’s going to presumably start next to a paint-hogger in Holmes. Who will be setting screens for Sac-Town’s chosen point guard De’Aaron Fox — a 26.4% shooter from beyond the arc.

It would be peak Kings to trade their only floor spacer for Randle — another forward/center shooting 31.0% from three and 33.5% for his career.

On the flip side, it would appear Barnes has the skill set to play alongside just about anybody. He could easily slide into Randle’s spot as a small-ball four, right?

Julius has started 53 games this year for New York. He leads the team in minutes, scoring, rebounding, and assists. The Knicks are 24-31 as of Feb. 9, 2.5 games back of a play-in berth.

The franchise signed Randle to a star-level contract. He’s not producing like one and his team isn’t winning, yet he’s still New York’s best player. As the roster stands, he’s the organization’s only hope at a star.

For all the good things said about Barnes, he’s never been accused of being anything more than a high-level role player. But since Randle hasn’t played up to expectations, it would be peak Knicks to panic-trade him in favor of yet another role player next to Fournier, Burks, Derrick Rose, and Mitchell Robinson.

But the deal makes just enough sense for each franchise to talk itself into pulling the trigger

Above are all the reasons this trade is completely illogical. But there’s just enough there for the two organizations to think about it, and that brief pause could spur a conversation, which could transition into trade talks, which could become an official transaction.

(According to Fanspo, a simple one-for-one deal totally works too).

New York could get rid of Randle’s contract in favor of the two years and $38 million owed to Barnes and bring in a more malleable player to fit both its current roster and future iterations.

Sacramento, though, is getting the best player in the trade. More often than not, that’s reason enough alone to pull the trigger. Randle is also younger and has been more statistically productive in a larger role throughout this career.

Take the best player in the deal and figure out how you work around three starting big men and a point guard who can’t shoot, right?

There’s juuuuust enough upside for each team to find a reason to say yes. And for NBA fans with no rooting interest, just for comedy’s sake, please let them say yes.

All statistics courtesy of NBA.com.

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