Julius Randle’s first season in New York came with far more headaches than achievements.
Entering year two of his three-year, $63 million contract with the Knicks, the former Wildcat will play for his third head coach in 10 months. The recently hired Tom Thibodeau was brought to New York with the hope that he could instill a work ethic and defensive mindset that the franchise has been missing for over a decade now. His track record developing players such as Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and even Karl-Anthony Towns to an extent, provides hope that Randle can go from a bulldozing scorer to an all-around player. Thibodeau already likes what he’s seen from the 25-year old.
“He’s a pro’s pro. He’s in great shape,” Thibodeau said, according to Ian Begley. “He’s willing to work and do anything that you ask. Having that type of leadership is important for our team,” Thibodeau said. “We need a consistency from our entire team and we also need for everyone to want to continue to improve and I think he’s shown that and he demonstrated that to me over the past three or four weeks.”
Thibs noted that Randle was one of the first players to arrive for workouts, participating prior to the Sept. 21 start date for individual workouts. During his first season with the Knicks, Randle posted 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 46 percent from the floor. As the No. 1 option on offense for the first time in his NBA career, he saw his efficiency take a significant dip and his effort on defense disappear.
My first thought whenever I heard Thibodeau say this? Randle will be traded within the next 60 days. How many times do brand new coaches give a young player a vote of confidence only for that player to subsequently get traded shortly after? Maybe Thibodeau really is impressed with Randle, but then again maybe he wants Randle’s trade value to boom as high as it can possibly can.
Randle and the Knicks are currently practicing in a Bubble as one of the Delete Eight teams, who are the eight franchises that did not make the trip to the Orlando Restart.
The addition of Kenny Payne to the Knicks coaching staff should at least give Randle the benefit of the doubt within the organization. However, the Knicks need to make some serious moves to the roster if they want to do better than winning 21 games in the upcoming season.