Julius Randle’s fit with the New York Knicks never got off to a good start, and we’re quickly learning why from inside the locker room.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, several of Randle’s teammates on the Knicks were “frustrated” by his play, including rookie R.J. Barrett. They were annoyed by “Randle’s penchant for not distributing the ball quickly enough and overdribbling, according to two sources familiar with the situation.”, Berman wrote.
Statistically, Randle had a solid individual season. While he was more impressive last season as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, his numbers in 2019-20 were nothing to bat an eye at. The former ‘Cat averaged 19.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per outing in 64 appearances, including 30 double-doubles. He was the best player on the Knicks roster from the day the season started to the day it was canceled. But therein lies the issue…
In the article, Berman outlines all of the basic and understandable reasons why the other Knicks players might feel this way.
Randle is not best suited to fill the role as a team’s number on option. In New Orleans, he lined up next to Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotic, and (sometimes) Anthony Davis. A top-tier caliber point guard like Holiday did wonders for Randle’s game. A rookie point guard like Barrett is nowhere near the same. Randle averaged a career-high 3.0 turnovers in 2019-20. His shooting numbers dipped from 52.4 percent last season to 46.0 percent as a Knick; his 3-point shooting declined from 34.4 percent to 27.7 percent – and on a higher volume.
Last summer, Randle was paid a handsome $63 million over three seasons, although his third season is not fully guaranteed. The New York Post also reported before the trade deadline that the franchise considered trading Randle to Charlotte.
“Julius got paid to be the leader of the franchise, but [Randle’s teammate, Marcus] Morris played like the leader of the franchise,’’ an NBA source said according to Berman.
In the summer of 2019, the Knicks spent all of its immediate cap room on forwards Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis, wings Reggie Bullock and Wayne Ellington, and point guard Eflird Payton, along with Randle. Ellington and Bullock combined to play just 65 games while Portis, Gibson, and Payton combined to average fewer than 25 percent of the team’s points per game. Randle is the only one actually earning his money, he was just never set up for success. The frontcourt was too crowded, Barrett was too young, the front office fired its head coach, and traded away its best player (Marcus Morris) at the trade deadline. It’s hardly Randle’s fault for what happened to New York in 2019-20.
There’s always a scapegoat…