Julius Randle represents the most recent star to be a part of the New York Knicks organization, with the last player being Carmelo Anthony. Retaining Randle at all costs must be a priority, as the Knicks could be looking to extend him during the summer to ensure that he remains in New York for the foreseeable future.
Having earned his first All-Star appearance this year, averaging over 24 points, double-digit rebounds, and 5.9 assists, he has become indispensable. Without him, the Knicks would be nowhere close to a playoff-contending team, as they currently sit in the 4th seed in the Eastern conference, just slightly ahead of the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics.
The Knicks have a serious string of games coming up as they prepare to take on the Phoenix Suns, LA clippers, and Lakers consecutively. They will need Randle and his scoring efficiency to extract a few victories during this tough stretch, as they try to cement themselves in the 4th seed.
However, as Randle continues to dominate, the Knicks will have to make a serious decision on his future with the team since he only has one year left on his contract. President Leon Rose will undoubtedly pick up the final year of his deal, which will pay him $20.745 million in 2022.
ESPNâ€™s Brian Windhorst reported that the Knicks and Randle could be looking to host extension talks over the summer:
The sudden drop of an anticipated 2021 free-agent class has caused a ripple effect for the coming offseason â€” teams have turned their attention to extending their own 2022 free agents.
Randle is a prime example and, for the Knicks, has gone from a maybe to a must-haveâ€¦
The Knicks can add up to four years to Randleâ€™s contract, and both sides intend to talk over the summer to see if they can come to an agreement, sources said. But salary-cap rules limit the raise in Randleâ€™s salary to a max of 20%.
The Knicks will have to come close to paying Randle an average of $30 million per season, while his average the past few years was just under $20 million. That is a massive increase for a player who has shown just one year of elite-level play. However, they feel confident heâ€™s going to remain consistent since his work ethic and mentality have changed for the better, and head coach Tom Thibodeau has offered him better leadership.
From another perspective, the Knicks realistically canâ€™t let him walk, so they donâ€™t have much of a choice but to sign him as a 2021 free-agent class dwindles. Most players are staying with their respective squads or picking up their player options, so the market wonâ€™t be flush with elite-level talent like he was supposed to be.