The New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers are both franchises that have had subpar years. The New York Knicks missed the playoffs after getting the 4th seed during the 2020-21 season, while the Los Angeles Lakers looked far from the championship contenders that many people expected them to be at the start of the season.
Perhaps a trade between both of those franchises could help them both improve. Here is a potential trade involving Russell Westbrook and Julius Randle that would benefit both teams.
New York Knicks Receive: Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Julius Randle, Evan Fournier, and Kemba Walker
New York Knicks Clear Salary Off The Books And Add A Young Player To Their Core
Julius Randle and Evan Fournier currently both have long-term, lucrative contracts. Most people would agree that both players are overpaid. This trade could potentially get those contracts off the books for the New York Knicks, as the Knicks would be acquiring Russell Westbrook's expiring contract. Obviously, this trade assumes that Russell Westbrook opts into his player option.
Clearing cap space could be a huge benefit for the New York Knicks, as they are a great free agency destination due to their market size. Perhaps that means they could entice free agents to join them in 2023 free agency.
In terms of what the New York Knicks would receive player-wise, the return isn't terrible either. Russell Westbrook is past his prime but still managed to put up 18.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 7.1 APG as a No. 3 option on the Los Angeles Lakers.
There are multiple ways the New York Knicks could go in regards to Russell Westbrook: perhaps they could buy out his contract or end up keeping him. Keeping him wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if he were to accept a smaller role. The leadership Russell Westbrook would bring to a young New York Knicks team would definitely be beneficial, as he is a point guard that has a lot of experience in this league, and he has played on the highest stage in the NBA Finals in the past.
The New York Knicks would also get Talen Horton-Tucker in this deal, and he is a young guard that they could potentially develop alongside their young core featuring RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley. He is a solid slasher and ball-handler, and on the New York Knicks, he'd likely get the opportunity that was missing on the Los Angeles Lakers.
This trade would allow the New York Knicks to get a young guard, which they can develop and move off of some bad contracts and improve their financial situation. There are definite benefits to this deal for the Knicks.
The Los Angeles Lakers Add A Skilled Big Man And Some Shooters To Their Roster
In this scenario, the Los Angeles Lakers would be taking on some bad contracts in return for moving off of Russell Westbrook. Even though a player may have a bad contract, that doesn't necessarily mean that they can't contribute to a rotation and help a team win.
Julius Randle made the All-Star team during the 2020-21 season, but he has been underwhelming this past season. Despite that, Randle is still a solid player, and he put up 20.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG, and 5.1 APG for the Knicks this season. He would be perfect as a No. 3 option behind Julius Randle and Anthony Davis. Randle is a forward that can handle the ball, pass, and score, and if his 3PT percentage can improve on the Lakers, then he'll be a valuable player for the team.
The Los Angeles Lakers would also receive Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker in this deal. They are both fantastic 3PT shooters that could space the floor next to the stars on the roster. Evan Fournier averaged 14.1 PPG and shot 38.9% from beyond the arc, while Kemba Walker put up 11.6 PPG while shooting 36.7% from the 3PT range. The New York Knicks would likely be willing to trade the two because Evan Fournier has a bad contract, while Kemba Walker was sitting out games for them.
Overall, this trade would get the Los Angeles Lakers 3 proven contributors, which could potentially help them contend for an NBA championship next season. It remains to be seen if this deal will actually happen, but as a hypothetical, it doesn't sound bad at all.