The word most commonly used to describe Knicks forward Anthony Randolph is enigma, and that’s pretty apt. Since Randolph entered the league, fans have been entranced by his physical specs: the build of a bipedal saluki, the gait of a mantis, the natural ability to glide through stratospheres previously reserved for aircraft. Sadly, coaches haven’t been able to harness those qualities. Randolph, who in his third year is still just 21 years old, was once a lottery pick of the Golden State Warriors but eventually found his way into Don Nelson’s doghouse.When the Knicks acquired him this summer, pants were wet over how Randolph’s physical gifts might blossom in the wonderful alchemy of Mike D’Antoni’s system. Unfortunately, it’s been more of the same. For all of his majesty, Randolph (who is, again, barely old enough to buy a wine cooler) is prone to impulsiveness and lapses in concentration. After the youngster struggled to operate within the coach’s plans (not to mention the rules of basketball), he was benched and has made only cameo appearances since mid-November. With a team that’s trying to reach the playoffs for the first time in seven years, D’Antoni simply couldn’t afford to let Randolph learn on the fly. That’s not the case for every team.
CBS’s Ken Berger reports that the Minnesota Timberwolves have expressed interest in Randolph, and that makes a lot of sense. Unlike the Knicks, David Kahn’s Wolves have long ago abandoned any playoff aspirations and could serve as a low-stakes testing ground in which to experiment with massive doses of Randolph. Anthony would fit quite well into a zany horde of T-Wolves that already includes beguiling misfits like Darko Milicic, Michael Beasley, and Corey Brewer.
In return, Minnesota is reportedly offering Sebastian Telfair, who is of questionable bearing and is a notoriously shaky shooter (not to mention the blood relative of a certain lightbulb-headed character from New York’s recent past). Donnie Walsh would much prefer to fill the Knicks’ hole at backup point guard with Luke Ridnour, who the team briefly pursued this past summer. Whether the Knicks settle for Telfair or the Wolves ante up remains to be seen, but nothing is imminent for the time being.
Meanwhile, Randolph is a bit of a sore spot for Knick followers during an otherwise pleasant season to date. Some have already declared Randolph a bust and would be more than happy to use him as an asset. Others are still clutching at the hope that Randolph can show enough in practice to earn another shot. Some, like this one, fall somewhere in between. An opportunity to deal for a serviceable backup is hard to pass up, but it’ll be all kinds of bittersweet if Randolph’s potential is realized someplace else.