Stephen A. Smith, a devoted Knicks fan and host of ESPN’s First Take, has called for the Knicks to trade star player Julius Randle following the team’s elimination from the playoffs in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Heat. The Knicks were the fifth seed in the playoffs, while the Heat earned the eighth seed via the play-in tournament.
Randle scored 15 points on 3/4 field goals, 1/7 three-pointers, and 8/9 free-throws in 36 minutes of play in Game 6. However, Smith was not impressed, unleashing a scathing critique of Randle’s performance and calling for the Knicks to trade him.
“Julius Randle. I am done with this man. I’m calling for the New York Knicks to trade him,” Smith said. “You’re not going to win with him. His body language the second his shot is not falling he’s defeated, and it has a contagious effect. It’s like a virus that hits everybody, no pun intended considering the times we’re living in. Julius Randle is not the answer. Trade him. He needs to go. Because every postseason, this is what he does, and that’s the way that it is.”
Randle, who became an NBA All-Star this season for the second time in his career and was named to the All-NBA Third Team, has been playing for the Knicks since 2019. During the regular season, he averaged 25.1 points, 10 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 35.5 minutes per game. In this year’s playoffs before Game 6, he averaged 16.8 points, 8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 32.7 minutes per game.
The Knicks have not reached the conference finals since the 1999-2000 season. Smith believes that trading Randle and acquiring players like Damian Lillard or Karl-Anthony Towns could help the team turn things around. “If you can play [Miles] McBride and [Quentin] Grimes, you can play Damian Lillard with Jalen Brunson,” Smith said.