Knicks reportedly not looking to trade Julius Randle (unless they have to for a star)

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets
New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets

New York grabbing the No. 2 seed in the East then making a run to the second round of the East playoffs — despite a rash of injuries — does not change the plan.

The Knicks want to add another star. They can be a little more picky now and need to be conscious of how this player fits with their grinding team culture — they are not going to chase Trae Young, for example — but Leon Rose and the New York front office realize they are still a player away.

New York wants to be additive, they want to keep the core they have — and that means keeping Julius Randle, reports Fred Katz at The Athletic. However, trading for a star means giving up quality, which could be Randle, depending on the situation.

The Knicks are not trying to trade Randle, but they recognize that their quest for a star could require having to do so. If a suitable target does not pop up this summer, then they could turn their eyes to the 2025 trade deadline, hoping to land one then.

The speculation that the Knicks would shop him grew online after New York made its end-of-season and playoff run this season without Randle — who was sidelined following shoulder surgery. That never made sense. There is only one Knick ultimately safe from being traded in the right deal (Jalen Brunson) but again, the goal is to be additive, not to make changes for the sake of change. Randle was an All-NBA player just a year ago who averaged 24 points and 9.2 rebounds a game this season before his injury in late January — you don't walk away from a player like that without an upgrade.

As Katz notes, on Aug. 3 Randle becomes eligible for a contract extension, worth up to four years and $181.5 million. That gives New York a little more than a month of free agency (and longer for trades, which could happen around the NBA Draft) to see if that one more star is out there for them. If that player is not available or the Knicks can't make a deal, then in August New York and Randle can talk about an extension.

The New York Knicks have a lot of roster issues to sort out before August and dealing with Randle:

• Jalen Brunson is also extension eligible this summer, but may not sign it. New York will offer him the largest extension they can — four years, $156 million — but if Brunson declines that, then declines his player option for 2025-26, he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2025 who can re-sign with the Knicks for five years, around $270 million. There have been some reports that Brunson will take the security of an extension this summer, but that would mean he's going to leave more than $110 million on the table. I wouldn't bet on that, even if he is an undersized guard (which are traditionally more prone to injury).

OG Anunoby has a $19.9 million player option that he will decline, knowing he will get a big raise with a new contract. The conventional wisdom is he likes the Knicks and being in New York, but this is ultimately about money — Anunoby's new starting salary will be north of $30 million a season, maybe closer to $35 million. New York likely pays that to keep him — it was obvious in the playoffs how much Anunoby matters to this team — but other suitors will be lurking and it's not impossible another team with cap space comes in over the top.

Isaiah Hartenstein will be a free agent. New York has his Early Bird Rights, which limits what they can offer him to four years, $72.5 million. Another team looking for a center on the free agent market may come in with an offer at or above $20 million a year (four years, $80+ million) and the Knicks could not match. This scenario saw Denver lose Bruce Brown last summer, and it could hit New York this year.