If Knicks’ President Leon Rose doesn’t move Julius Randle this off season, he’ll be making a mistake. The Knicks are becoming R.J. Barrett’s team and Randle doesn’t fit the program.
Randle’s play in the 2020-2021 season earned him praise and a contract extension, but the 2021-2022 season developed into a nightmare for the 27-year old power forward.
As in the previous season, the offense ran through Randle in the early going, but it wasn’t working as well this time around.
Did you cringe every time Randle brought the ball up court this season? His court awareness was non existent. Opponents would always seem to be sneaking up from behind and stealing the ball, or when he was in the paint, he would put the ball on the floor, which allowed the defense to take it away.
Randle was a turnover waiting to happen but he had similar numbers in the previous season. In 2020-2021, Randle averaged 3.4 turnovers/game. In 2021-2022, Randle averaged 3.4 turnovers/game.
One big difference was that his numbers from beyond the arc dropped off drastically from .411 to .308. In both seasons, he took the same amount of shots from three point range, yet made 40 less from three. That shows that he took too many ill advised three point shots.
Maybe Randle’s previous season was more of an aberration, while this season, he may have fallen back to the norm.
Randle’s statistical downturn was not the only problem. His attitude came into question this season.
In January, Randle made a “thumbs down” gesture to the fans who were frustrated with him and he took a lot of heat for that. He began to duck the media and was fined $25,000 by the NBA for not talking.
Ownership paid that fine. To me, that was a mistake, because it gave Randle a false sense of security that ownership would be behind him, no matter what he did or how he acted.
Even head coach Tom Thibodeau seemed to go out of his way to defend Randle in public. I would think Thibs would have said something to Randle on those nights when he needed a talking to.
Rose had not spoken to the media since September (how the NBA allows the Knicks to get away with that is beyond me) but he spoke exclusively to MSG Network on the final day of the season. Since he didn’t take questions from the beat reporters or any other media, we’re left to decipher what he really meant.
Rose went out of his way to say Randle wants to be here, while there are contradicting reports that say he’s pulling a “James Harden” in trying to force a trade.
In addressing Randle’s on court performance, Rose said, “You had teams keying on his more this year. At the end, he made some adjustments.”
I didn’t see any adjustments at the end. I thought Randle shot the ball terribly in his final games of the season. Teams keyed on Randle this year because they saw how the Hawks defensed him in the playoffs last season.
Was Rose really supporting Randle with the idea of bringing him back, or was he laying the ground work for a deal. Rose has been around long enough to realize that Randle is not right for this team at this point in time.
The emergence of Obi Toppin in the final weeks of the season may have altered the plans. (Then again, we never know what the plans are) Toppin got minutes and delivered with 136 points in his final five games, capping it off with a 42 point performance in the final game of the season.
Is Toppin the real deal and if he is, where does that leave Randle?
The Knicks have a core of some nice, young players led by Barrett, and including Immanuel Quickley, (who may just work out as a point guard) Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, and Jericho Sims.
Rose never had to explain why pairing Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier turned into a disaster. Both are defensive liabilities, while Walker never clicked with Randle. Fournier had some good games but too many off games to be a major contributor.
Rose will be under the gun to make some crucial decisions this off season.
Mitchell Robinson may end up in Detroit but is he really worth bringing back considering his injury history.
Barrett is due for a contract extension. Of course, he’ll have to become a more consistent shooter if he hopes to become an elite player. I’m confident he will improve and I believe he’ll be a worthwhile investment.
The Knicks are back in the lottery and what if they get lucky this time and end up with a top five pick.
The point is, for what seems like the umpteenth time in the past 20 years, the Knicks are at the crossroads.
Leon desperately needs to choose the right path.