New York Yankee Recap: Tampa Bay Rays crushed the Yankees in embarrassing loss

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

The New York Yankees entered today’s matinee hoping for a win to secure home-field advantage in the wild card game. The Yankees lost a squeaker last night in the ninth inning when the Rays outscored them 3-2 in a hard-fought match. Today the Yankees sent Jordan Montgomery to the mound to face a Ray’s newbie in 22-year-old Shane Baz. Baz was called up on September 20th and had won both of his games. The Yankees were totally embarrassed by the Rays in a 12-2 loss when anything that could go wrong for the Yankees, did go wrong.

At the top of the first inning, “Monty” faced Randy Arozarena, who walked. Wander Franco singled to left, moving Arozarena to second. Nelson Cruz popped out to a rushing Aaron Judge. Yandy Diaz flew out to a diving Joey Gallo. Brandon Lowe homered into the short porch for a three-run long ball. Mike Zunino struck out to end the half. At the bottom, Gleyber Torres led off for the Yankees against the 22-year-old Shane Baz in his 3rd major league game and struck out on eleven pitches. Anthony Rizzo had a solo blast to right to shorten the Rays lead. Aaron Judge walked. Giancarlo Stanton popped out to short. Joey Gallo struck out to end the inning. Tampa 3 New York 1.

The second inning was led off by Manuel Margot, who ground out to Gallo in left. Austin Meadows followed with another flyout to Gallo. Francisco Mejia playing first base for the first time today walked. Arozarena struck out. Gio Urshela led off the bottom of the second by grounding out to short. Brett Gardner tapped out slowly to second. Gary Sanchez struck out to end the inning. Rays 3 Yankees 1.

Wander Franco led off the third inning by singled in front of Joey Gallo in left. Cruz went down swinging on a Montgomery curveball. Diaz walked. Lowe that homered in the first inning, homered again to extend the Rays lead to five. Zunino homered to left. Margot doubled. The impatient Yankee boo birds came out in full force, loudly booing Montgomery.  Meadows flew out to Gardner, and that was the day as Montgomery was booed off the field. Mejia faced the new Yankee pitcher Lucas Luetge and struck out to finally end the half.

At the bottom, Andrew Velazquez, being called up last night, went down looking. Torres ground out to short. Rizzo walked. Judge faced the new Rays pitcher J.P. Feyereisen and gave it a ride, but Arozarena jumped and prevented it from leaving the park. Tampa Bay Rays 7 New York Yankees 1.

Randy Arozarena doubled to lead off the fourth. Franco lined out. Cruz singled. Diaz hit into a double play to end the half. At the bottom, Stanton struck out swinging. Gallo singled to left. Urshela got a long one that rattled around the right-field corner as Ushela tripled and Gallo scored. Gardner popped out to the infield. Sanchez popped out to third. Rays 7 Yankees 2.

Brandon Lowe, who had homered twice, faced Luetge and went down on strikes. Zunino struck out looking. Margot flew out to a running Gardner in center to end the half. At the bottom, Andrew Velaquez led off by giving one a ride that was caught at the wall by Margot. Torres went down swinging. Rizzo singled beyond first. Judge ground out to third. Rays 7 Yankees 2.

The sixth inning was led off by Austin Meadows, who struck out swinging. Mejia flew out to Gardner. Arozarena singled up the middle and stole second. He then stole third. Franco singled driving in Arozarena. Nelson Cruz faced the new Yankee pitcher Michael King and, with one on and two outs, reached on a booted ball by Torres, with Franco advancing to second. Diaz struck out swinging, but the Rays picked up another run. At the bottom, Stanton struck out swinging. Gallo ground out to first. Urshela struck out on a foul tip. Rays 8 Yankees 2

Brandon Lowe led off the seventh inning with his third home run of the game. Zunino singled. Margot singled. Meadows faced the new Yankee pitcher Joely Rodriguez with two on and no outs and got a three-run homer to the right-field stands. Mejia singled. Arozarena singled. Franco hit into a double play. Cruz, with a runner on third and two outs, struck out to end the half. At the bottom, Gardner flew out to center. Sanchez walked. Velazquez foul tipped. Torres missed a single when the ball got away by only jogging to first. Rays 12 Yankees 2.

Diaz led off the eighth inning lined out to Gardner. Lowe, who had three home runs in the game, ground out. Zunino picked up a third hit on a slow roller to third. Margot ground out to end the half. Anthony Rizzo led off the bottom by flying out to the warning track in right-center. Judge singled to center. Stanton struck out. Gallo struck out. Rays 12 Yankees 2.

Austin Meadows led off the ninth inning by striking out. Mejia singled. Arozarena hit into a double play to end the half. With last licks on the line for the New York Yankees, Gio Urshela came to bat and ground out to second. Brett Gardner hustled and reached on a passed ball. Gary Sanchez ground into a double play to end a very embarrassing game. The final score was the Tampa Bay Rays 12 and the New York Yankees 2. The winning pitcher was Luis Patino, and the loser was Jordan Montgomery.

 

 

New York Giants activate WR John Ross off injured reserve

New York Giants, John Ross

The New York Giants are getting a key piece of their offense back from injured reserve. The Giants activated wide receiver John Ross III off injured reserve today. Ross missed the first three weeks of the season with a hamstring injury suffered at the beginning of the preseason. He will make his season debut on Sunday.

The Giants signed John Ross this offseason to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Ross spent the first four years of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals after his former team drafted him with the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

John Ross never lived up to his top-ten draft hype. His career with the Bengals was filled with drops, injuries, and a lot of disappointment. But Ross was the perfect, low-risk, high-reward signing for the Giants to make this offseason. With Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton OUT on Sunday, now is the perfect time for John Ross to make his season debut.

John Ross III stats and highlights

Through the Giants’ three winless weeks in the 2021 season, they have struggled to make plays downfield. John Ross and his record-breaking 4.22s 40-yard-dash speed will enter the lineup, hopefully leading to more explosive passing plays.

Ross looked excellent in training camp with the Giants this summer. But as a former first-round pick with only 21 receptions to his name, Ross still has a lot to prove. To this point, he is a draft bust. But maybe a change of scenery could turn things around for John Ross.

The Giants will face off against the New Orleans Saints tomorrow’s Week Four matchup. The 0-3 Giants are searching for their first win against the 2-1 Saints. The Saints have the NFL’s sixth-best defense so far this season. They are allowing only 304 yards per game. New York will need all the help it can get offensively. John Ross could play a major role in the Giants’ offensive game plan on Sunday.

New York Giants restructuring James Bradberry’s contract to save cap space

New York Giants, James Bradberry

The New York Giants are in a bad cap situation right now, and their latest roster move reflects that. The team has restructured a number of contracts this season to keep from going over the salary cap, and the latest restructuring involves top cornerback James Bradberry and saves another $2.7M in cap space.

The Giants are restructuring Bradberry’s contract for the second time in the past seven months, which goes to show how bad their cap problems have gotten. The original deal that Bradberry signed when joining the team was for three years and $45M.

The move to clear more cap space could be viewed as an emergency play by Dave Gettleman, who likely intends to use the freed up cap space to make more roster changes following injuries to multiple positions including the offensive line and the inside linebacker spot.

This season is arguably Gettleman’s last chance to save his job, and his decisions going forward this season will likely reflect that reality.

As for Bradberry, the cornerback has been on the field for the vast majority of the Giants’ defensive snaps this season and recorded a pass defended in each of the opening three games of the season.

His lone interception this year came against Washington, and gave the offense a chance to put the game away after taking over the ball – that chance, of course, fell flat as the Giants ended up losing the game anyway.

Gettleman’s move to free up cap space will only push that money further down the line to a future season. At this point, however, it doesn’t look like the Giants GM cares much about that factor as he likely won’t have the job next season at this rate.

With Gettleman’s job in imminent trouble, we can expect to see more changes made to the roster which will require more spending despite the team’s already expansive spending spree during the offseason.

Barrett as Knicks’ top perimeter defender? Thibodeau says ‘That’s the challenge’

new york knicks, rj barrett

New York Knicks former lottery pick RJ Barrett wants to be known as a two-way player and become one of the top perimeter defenders. This season will give him that opportunity.

Can he do it?

“That’s the challenge,” Tom Thibodeau said after Thursday’s practice. “To continue to challenge him, to grow and get better.”

When Reggie Bullock took his long locks and defensive lockdown mentality to Dallas, the onus was on Barrett to step up to the plate.

Evan Fournier is a shiny upgrade than Bullock. But despite Bullock’s limitation on shot creation, he was the bedrock of the Knicks’ perimeter defense last season. According to ESPN stats, his 3.74 Defensive Real Plus-Minus (DRPM) was the second-best among all small forwards in the league.

Barrett landed third among all shooting guards (though he spent most of his playing time as a small forward) with 3.00 DRPM, while Fournier was so far behind, at 26th spot with 0.16 DRPM.

Last season, the Knicks vaunted defense under Thibodeau finished third, tied with the Utah Jazz, in defensive efficiency allowing only 105.7 per 100 possessions, according to ESPN’s Hollinger team statistics. The Los Angeles Lakers (104.8) and the Philadelphia 76ers (105.1) were the only teams ahead of them.

Bullock and Barrett, along with Julius Randle, were the constants in the Knicks’ top three best defensive lineups, per Cleaning The Glass.

The trio flanked by Elfrid Payton and Mitchell Robinson only allowed 104.1 points per 100 possessions. Swap Payton with Immanuel Quickley and Robinson with Noel, the Knicks’ defensive efficiency slightly dipped to 104.5 points. Their third-best defensive lineup featured Derrick Rose, Barrett, Bullock, Randle, and Noel (104.8 points).

With Kemba Walker and Fournier expected to start at the backcourt, there’s trepidation that the Knicks defense will sag this season. Barrett earlier said he’s more than willing to step up and take on Bullock’s role as their top wing defender if Thibodeau calls his number.

“I think each year you learn and I think he has a better understanding of the tendencies of players. I think he understands schemes a lot better. He’s gotten stronger,” Thibodeau said, “but I think it’s a challenge for the entire team to stay locked in and improve. There’s a lot of things we can do better.”

Barrett’s big jump in DRPM from his rookie year (-2.68, ranked 132nd) to his sophomore season showed his enormous appetite for growth. According to Cleaning The Glass, 97 percent of Barrett’s minutes last season were spent as a small forward, with the Knicks allowing 108.6 points per 100 possessions which ranked in the 87th percentile.

Relatively, Bullock was more effective as the shooting guard (107.7 points per 100 possessions, 85th percentile) than as a small forward (111.5 points per 100 possessions, 63rd percentile), per Cleaning The Glass. Perhaps it’s the reason why he spent 85 percent of his minutes as a shooting guard.

While Fournier brings “Judo toughness” to the Knicks, the Frenchman is more a bucket-getter than a lockdown defender. He gives up at least 9 to 10 pounds in heft to Barrett and three inches in wingspan. Barrett’s stocky 6-foot-6 (that could still be growing), 214-pound frame, and 6-10 wingspan better resemble Bullock’s attributes.

After Barrett, rookie Quentin Grimes figure to be their next best bet as a defensive stopper in the wings. He comes with a reputation as a solid two-way player after spending two seasons under former NBA coach Kelvin Sampson, who coaches as hard as Thibodeau. But in a roster as deep as the Knicks have this year, it’s hard to imagine Thibodeau giving Grimes a long leash during his rookie year.

Thibodeau has a pragmatic approach to mitigating the loss of Bullock, and in part Payton, in their bid to remain among the league’s top-tier defense after choosing to upgrade their offense with Walker and Fournier. There is pressure for Barrett to take another leap defensively, but Thibodeau is not putting it entirely on his shoulder.

“I think it’s important for us to approach it as last year is last year, this year is a new, different year. And it’s important for us to start with a zero base to know that we have to put the work into this. It’s very difficult to guard in this league individually. Collectively, what you can do as a team? And so everyone has to understand their job is to go out there and execute their part,” Thibodeau said.

“If one guy is not doing his job, it will break down. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a defensive transition, pick and roll defense, catch and shoot defense, low-post defense, whatever defense you’re in, it’s gotta be five guys tied together.”

Aristotle once said: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” And it rings true with this Knicks team under Thibodeau.

“Each night you’ll be challenged in a different way. Some nights it may be the bigs. Some nights it’s (the) point guards. A lot of nights it’s (the) wings. And so help your teammate like you would want to be helped for. So everyone has to be in the right position. Everyone has to read the ball correctly. Everyone has to make multiple efforts,” said Thibodeau explaining his tried and tested defensive philosophy.

The Knicks were at their best last season when they played like a ‘string defensively’ as Walker described them Thursday. But having an elite two-way wing can bring the Knicks closer to title contention.

The jury is still out on Barrett. But embracing the challenge is a good start.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Can the Knicks afford to give Kevin Knox another opportunity? | Team must drop 5 from active roster

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox

The New York Knicks are flush with talent as they approach preseason and training camp gets underway. Adding Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Quentin Grimes, and Miles McBride this off-season should contribute toward far more effective and productive play during the 2021-22 season.

However, there are not enough spots on the active roster once the regular season comes around to host a few fringe players. An NBA roster is limited to 15 players while carrying 20 during the off-season.

The current Knicks roster includes:

Dwayne Bacon

RJ Barrett

Alec Burks

Evan Fournier

Taj Gibson

Quentin Grimes

Kevin Knox

Miles McBride

Nerlens Noel

Immanuel Quickley

Julius Randle

Mitchell Robinson

Derrick Rose

Wayne Selden

Aamir Simms

Jericho Sims

Obi Toppin

Luca Vildoza

Kemba Walker

MJ Walker

With 20 players currently on the roster, the odd men out seem to be Bacon, Selden, Simms, Walker, and Sims. Most of these options will find their way to the G-League, but it presents Kevin Knox with another opportunity to stick around an NBA team for the time being.

Knox has had a lackluster start to his career at the top level, barely making an impact last season despite the team enjoying plenty of success.

Knox has continuously seen his minutes decreased since his rookie season when he averaged 28.8 per game. Last year, he finished with just 11 minutes per contest, making 42 appearances and averaging 3.9 points, 1.5 rebounds, shooting 39% from the field. Unfortunately, his career in New York is likely coming to an end after this season, as the Knicks will not have an extra roster spot for him to ride the bench. At this point, the only way he can get on the court is if his team is blowing out their opponents and they want to get him in during garbage time.

Knox is set to earn $5.8 million this season and will have a qualifying offer next year at $7.9 million. It is highly unlikely the Knicks exercise that option, electing to move on from him if they cannot find a trade partner.

Ideally, the team will find a club interested in his services, but given his lack of development and offenseive deficiencies, his value doesn’t represent much.

[wpdiscuz-feedback id=”25edhtzmka” question=”Should the Knicks get rid of Knox now or later? ” opened=”0″]What do you think the Knicks should do with Kevin Knox? Should they offer a roster spot to a player like Bacon or Jericho Sims? Comment here![/wpdiscuz-feedback]

Yankees’ haven’t ruled out Taillon for Sunday’s series finale

New York Yankees, Jameson Taillon

New York Yankees‘ starter Jameson Taillon, who had to leave his last start on Tuesday after re-aggravating an ankle injury suffered in early September, is still “very much in play” to pitch in some capacity during Sunday’s season finale against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Taillon, who is 29 years old, completed a successful bullpen session on Friday, right before the game against the Rays, at Yankee Stadium. According to Yankees’ skipper Aaron Boone, he “threw really well.”

“He was sharp,” Boone said, according to NJ Advance Media. “He looks really good. He feels really good. Most importantly, his arm and everything is good. But the ankle is responding. There’s no favoring. He’s letting it rip. His mechanics are really sound. I would have to say the bullpen he just threw was very encouraging.”

Will the Yankees use Taillon this weekend?

Taillon only pitched 2 1/3 innings on Tuesday before leaving the game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Is there a chance we see him on Sunday before the regular season expires? That would depend on many things ranging from the game flow to how he feels, but Boone seems open to the idea.

“I think that’s very much in play, yes,” Boone said.

The Yankees’ starter, who came via trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates this season, originally hit the injured list on September 9, and was diagnosed with a partial tear of a tendon in his right ankle. He made one rehab start at Triple-A before Tuesday’s outing, when he had to leave because of discomfort in the area.

Sunday would be Taillon’s day to pitch, but it remains to be seen if the Yankees need him. If they can clinch both the Wild Card berth and the home-field advantage for the game, it’s likely that they will just hold him back until the risk of re-aggravation is significantly diminished. However, if the Bombers get to Sunday needing a win, he could be an option for Boone.

Yankees’ Joey Gallo silences critics: ‘I know I’m a really good defender’

joey gallo, yankees

New York Yankees’ left fielder Joey Gallo had a couple of rough defensive plays recently, one against the Boston Red Sox in which he dropped an easy popup, and another one against in the Toronto series, failing to call off Gio Urshela in a play that resulted in a double.

A small portion of Yankees and other teams’ fans criticized him over the Internet for his defensive miscues, but make no mistake: the reality is an entirely different one. Gallo is still one of the premier outfield defenders in the league, and a couple of isolated plays won’t change that.

His talent was on full display on Friday, for example. He made a crucial diving catch and also threw out a runner at third base in the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I know I’m a really good defender,” Gallo said to NJ Advance Media. “I think people don’t obviously know that or give credit to that, but I know that.”

The Yankees’ slugger is also a solid fielder

He needed to have a great day with the glove to remind people that he is far more than a one-dimensional slugger.

“It was good to have a nice day out there and make some plays, especially after a trip of dropping a ball and whatnot,” Gallo said.

Perhaps the error against the Red Sox exposed him more than your average game because it was on national TV, against the Yankees’ archrivals.

“Sunday Night Baseball, that’s probably a terrible time to do that,” Gallo said.

“It’s just kind of part of it,” Gallo said. “I really haven’t thought too much about it. … You’re going to make mistakes and sometimes things aren’t going to go your way, but you’ve got to keep playing aggressively and I always believe in myself out there.”

The numbers are actually on Gallo’s side. He is in the 91st percentile in Outs Above Average, with 6, and he is also in the 90th in Outfield Jump.

Yankees News: Aaron Boone makes awful bullpen decision costing his team the game

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

With the regular season winding to an end, every decision Yankees manager Aaron Boone makes is extremely important. Boone has been known to make controversial moves in the past, and his latest one could’ve cost his team the game.

With the Yankees down 2-1 heading into the ninth inning, all they needed was to survive and give their offense one more opportunity to score. Instead, Boone elected to utilize Domingo German in the eighth inning and carry him over into the ninth, and after walking two batters, he called upon Albert Abreu over Aroldis Chapman to get the job done.

Chapman tossed 22 pitches on Thursday evening, so the Yankee skipper wanted to save him for later on in the series. However, Abreu allowed Wander Franco to single to right field, driving in two runs and giving the Tampa Bay Rays a three-run cushion in the bottom of the ninth.

The Yankees leaning on German in just his first appearance of the year was a bit surprising, as the choice ended up backfiring in an important situation.

“Like I’ve been saying every day when asked about him, he’s going to be in some difficult situations. We have to lean on everyone down there,” Boone said of German after the game. “I thought he came in and threw the ball well.

“Obviously, the [walks] there hurt him to knock him out of the game. But I thought overall he threw the ball pretty well.”

If the Yankees were able to get out of the top of the ninth inning, they likely would’ve won the game, considering they posted two runs, falling 3-4 to the Rays. The final score would’ve been 3-2, including a walk-off single from Brett Gardner, driving in Joey Gallo and Tyler Wade.

The Yankees losing gives the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays an opportunity to climb back into the Wild Card race. With the Bombers hosting a one-game advantage for the first place spot, Boston is just behind them. The Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays are one game behind Boston. The Yankees must walk away with a victory on Saturday, which would be enough to help secure one of the two Wild Card spots given a Seattle or Toronto defeat.

New York Yankees 10/2: Takeaways as the Yankees lose but reach magic #1

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Santon

The New York Yankees were licking their wounds after a ninth-inning rally failed to save them from losing a game one 4-3 from the Tampa Bay Rays. But at the time, they had no idea that in the middle of the night, they would reduce their magic number to #1. The Seattle Mariners game didn’t start until 10 pm EDT and didn’t end until after 1 am in the east, but by the time they walked off the field, the Mariners had lost the game propelling the Yankees to that magic #1.

Last night’s Yankee/Ray contest was a typically hard-fought game on both team’s part. However, the game never got out of hand to the point that it was lopsided. The Tampa Bay Rays got on the board early, with Nelson Cruz sending one into the New York night. But Giancarlo Stanton blasted an RBI to leave the first inning tied at one apiece. The next seven innings would be scoreless for the Yankees.

After nearly three hours, the game was still close with the Rays having a one-run advantage, then came a very exciting and tense ninth inning for both teams. The Rays tacked on two runs. In the bottom of the inning, with the Yankees behind by three runs, the Yankees’ late rally garnered them two more runs, but it wasn’t enough.

Nasty Nestor still doing his job

Nestor Cortes Jr. took to the mound last night and did what he has been doing ever since the reliever was turned into a starter by necessity. He kept the Yankees in the game. After giving up a homer to Nelson Cruz in the first, he settled down and gave the Yankees almost five innings giving up just one more run while striking out five Rays.

Also, last night Domingo German returned from the IL after not pitching for two months. Boone called in German to pitch the eighth. German pitched a scoreless eighth. He went into the first out of the ninth giving up two earned runs while striking out three. Many fans were asking why Boone didn’t bring closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.

“He’s going to be in some difficult situations,” Boone said. “We’ve got to lean on everyone down there. The walks hurt to knock him out of the game, but I thought overall he threw the ball pretty well.”

“I just felt like, matchup-wise, it was good,” Boone said. “I thought Albert did a good job of getting Arozarena out and then he puts Franco on the ground there. He just found a hole with it.”

If the Yankees come up on the wrong side of things after this series, this decision will be questioned again.

Yankee bats stymied by Tampa pitchers

The New York Yankees, maybe more than some teams, have had a great deal of difficulty hitting off good pitchers, and that’s what they faced last night. At the end of the night, the Yankees only got five hits off Rays pitching until they got to Kittredge in the ninth. But it ended up too little too late. Only Stanton and Gardner had two hits in the game. Five Yankees were hitless.

Yankee magic number is now one

This morning, the New York Yankees sit firmly in the number one berth for home-field advantage in the wild card game by one game. The Red Sox are holding on tight for that second spot after winning their game against the Nationals last night. Toronto also won last night and is one game behind the Red Sox. With the Mariners’ loss early this morning, they will have to win both of their remaining games to stay in contention.

If the Yankees win today, they will be assured of the home-field advantage even if the Red Sox win another one. Today the Yankees face the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:05 pm EDT. Jordan Montgomery will be on the mound for the Yankees and Shane Baz for the Rays.

Saturday’s matinee will feature the matchup of veteran Jordan Montgomery against the young Shane Baz. Montgomery is a lefty that is 6-6 with an ERA of 3.49 and 159 strikeouts. “Monty” is the Yankee poster boy for getting little run support in his games. He is coming off two wins against the Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox. He has had only one bad outing this season. It was on September 10th when he gave up seven earned runs in just 3.1 innings of work. The Rays hitters have not been particularly successful of him, but he will have to watch out for Manuel Margot, who in 14 at-bats has a .357 batting average.

Twenty-two-year-old Shane Baz will be a mystery to Yankee hitters as they have not seen him pitch except on video. However, he made his major league debut on September 20th and has won both of his games against the Toronto Blue jays and the Miami Marlins. He has pitched a total of 10.2 innings. In his Toronto game, he gave up two home runs. In his Marlins start, he allowed three hits in his scoreless 5.2 innings.

 

 

Knicks News: Julius Randle is a man of the people, Derrick Rose’s presence is enough to attract stars

new york knicks, julius randle

One of the more impressive accomplishments the New York Knicks have enjoyed the past two years is the building of a culture on the backs of great people. The first step in changing the course of the franchise was to alter their trajectory in the locker room regarding mentality and discipline.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau has done a phenomenal job implementing his style, which focuses on strict defense and practicing at 100%. He has no worries running a player into the ground with significant minutes, which some have questioned in the past, but ultimately brings out the best in those who embrace it.

The one player that saw his talents take a jump to the next level is now All-Star power forward Julius Randle, who signed a lucrative four-year extension this off-season to stick with the Knicks. When the extension kicks in after the 2021-22 season, Randle will earn about $30 million per year. The contract lands at $117 million, making him a free agent in 2026. The deal includes a player option during the 2025-26 campaign and a 15% trade bonus if the Knicks elect to part ways prematurely.

Interestingly, the two sides agreed on a deal well before the season began, electing to capitalize on his performance from last season instead of betting on himself and seeking a contract even more impressive in stature (Dennis Schroder set the stage for that mistake). The Knicks felt confident executing this contract mainly because of how Randle has reinvented himself, becoming a leader and face of the franchise.

Julius is not only a ferocious player on the court, but he’s a man of the people off the screen. He spent his day off reading to children at his son’s school, setting an example for players on the team.

The culture the Knicks have built revolves around discipline and respect for one another. New acquisition Kemba Walker already indicated one of the main reasons he joined the team was because of Derrick Rose’s presence within the roster. Rose alone is capable of attracting big names, given his experience and wisdom at the point guard position.

Rose has already submitted the starting job to Walker, indicating he will help the team in any way he can, whether it be with the starting team or the reserves. With so many mentors to help curate a learning environment for the younger players like RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, and Miles McBride, the sky is the limit for this team. If they can remain positive and motivated, they might even be able to push beyond the first round of the postseason this upcoming year, which would really set the stage for a franchise that is headed toward a renaissance.