Knicks’ lineup ‘perfect as is’ with Julius Randle according to NBA Hall-of-Famer

Mar 29, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) controls the ball against Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Retired NBA Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett believes that the New York Knicks don’t need to acquire a superstar to win a championship, and stood behind All-Star Julius Randle in a string of recent comments.

Kevin Garnett thinks the Knicks should keep building around Julius Randle

Garnett was recently a guest on Tuesday’s episode of the “Stephen A. Smith Show” and told Smith that he was “tripping” about denying Randle as a legitimate No. 1 option, and had this to say about the two-time All-NBA honoree and the Knicks as a whole (h/t Geoff Magliocchetti of Fan Nation’s All Knicks):

“Man, y’all tripping on Julius Randle. Julius Randle is one of the harder guard in this (league). (He’s) left-handed, he’s got a three-ball, he can playmake. I mean, he ain’t perfect, but man, being with this team?” Garnett said before giving the Knicks his stamp of approval.

“The Knicks are perfect. The Knicks should not be touched. Let’s run this two years with this and then talk about that superstar (stuff) later.”

The Knicks saw greater playoff success in 2024 without Randle in the lineup

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center
Jan 23, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt that Randle is a versatile All-Star that can service any contending team. The major question marks around his name lie with his dependability come playoff time.

The Knicks saw their most successful playoff run in 24 years without the Kentucky product healthy in the lineup. When he has been active in the postseason for New York, he’s shot 30 percent or worse from the field in six of his 16 appearances for the ball club. Another four were under 40 percent.

Randle has regressed when it matters most. While his presence would have undoubtedly helped the Knicks in their 2024 Eastern Conference Semifinals series which they lost in seven games to the Indiana Pacers, the main thing that the NBA world cares about is whether he can help lead them to a championship behind All-Star Jalen Brunson or not.

Brunson rose to fringe MVP status this year and took his game to an even higher level in the playoffs, finishing second to Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid among all playoff scorers at 32.4 points per game through the first two rounds. Though considerably less, he too has question marks around his name as to whether he can be the main guy that spearheads a title run.

Are the Knicks a “perfect” team as is?

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau high fives New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) with guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) and forward OG Anunoby (8) and guard Jalen Brunson (11) during the first quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden
Jan 18, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau high fives New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) with guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) and forward OG Anunoby (8) and guard Jalen Brunson (11) during the first quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Garnett labeling the Knicks a “perfect” team as is runs contrary to a belief that many of his legendary NBA counterparts have when reflecting on their championship seasons. Greats like Shaquille O’Neal have incessantly stated that regularly upgrading rosters is paramount to teams achieving and sustaining greatness in the league.

The Knicks have Randle under contract until his player option takes effect in 2025-26. His name has been a centerpiece of Knicks trade rumors in recent weeks. If the Knicks get a chance to trade for a player the likes of Paul George or Donovan Mitchell, their hand may be forced to throw Randle into whatever deal takes shape. The Texas native will need to prove that he can, at the least, increase his output in a deep postseason run to give Garnett’s appraisal credence and silence critics.

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