The 37-year-old Randolph played 80 games for the Knicks earlier in his career and New York is looking to offload salary.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Wednesday morning that the New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings are in preliminary discussions in a trade involving Enes Kanter and Zach Randolph.
The 26-year-old center Kanter opted into his player option last summer, binding the Knicks to the one-dimensional player who has recently vocalized his discontent with coming off the bench. Additionally, Kanter has revealed he’s not planning on traveling with the team to London next week where the Knicks play the Washington Wizards due to Enes’ ongoing legal travails and public dissension with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Zach Randolph, 37, signed with the Sacramento Kings in the summer of 2017 during Knicks general manager—then assistant general manager—Scott Perry’s brief tenure with Sacramento. Randolph is a two-time All-Star and former Most Improved Player who hasn’t appeared in a game for the Kings in 2018–19. The 6-foot-9 power forward played 80 games for the Knicks in 2007–08.
Kanter is averaging 14.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 26.5 minutes per game while shooting 54.3 percent from the field, 35 percent from three, and 81.7 percent from the free-throw line in 41 games.
This could be a major win for Scott Perry if a deal can be completed. Kanter wants to play meaningful basketball—and play major minutes—both desires that can no longer be fulfilled in New York. Kanter’s heart was always in the right place; his mouth, and Twitter fingers, have exacerbated the tail end of his Knicks tenure. An amicable parting of the ways will rid the team of a locker room issue and allow the development of the young guys to kick into high gear.
Randolph’s potential arrival does not compromise this plan. Randolph has not played a single minute for the Kings and could very well never suit up for the Knicks this season either. At the bare minimum, Z-Bo is cap space for this summer. If he does play, his slow plodding style could be a shrewd tanking tool.
An ideal Randolph-Knicks reunion would include mentoring Mitchell Robinson—and even Noah Vonleh. Z-Bo is the personification of an OG. His days of helping on the court may be behind him, but he has to have a plethora of war stories and tips for the young big men. The removal of Kanter frees up the big man rotation. Vonleh can now get more time at the 5 along with Luke Kornet, Robinson, and the impending return of Kristaps Porzingis. It also frees up Fizdale to continue to experiment with Kevin Knox as a stretch four and perhaps open up more minutes for Mario Hezonja to showcase his talents for any potential suitors. Hezonja had flourished off the bench against the Lakers and Warriors during New York’s road trip. Kornet, meanwhile, has started in the Knicks’ last six games, providing space and a viable three-point threat, which Kanter cannot.
Kanter is earning roughly $8.87 million more than Randolph this season. Granted, the difference in salary would not affect New York’s free-agent bids in the summer as both big men are on expiring deals. Nonetheless, the exchanging of the players and contracts might facilitate another deal for the Knicks—possibly offloading guard Tim Hardaway Jr. or veterans Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas—in order to create a greater cap-space cushion if Perry and New York feel comfortable landing a max-worthy star in July.