Knicks: Thibodeau explains Randle’s no-show in postgame presser

It appears the New York Knicks are willing to pay the price to shield their embattled star Julius Randle from any distraction.

The Knicks paid a $25,000 fine for not making Randle available to the media Thursday night following their ugly 102-91 loss to New Orleans Pelicans. New York coach Tom Thibodeau said the team decided it was the best move as the emotional Randle took a lot of heat from the fans in a four-point dud against the Pelicans.

“I think the big thing is just be focused on the next game and winning,” Thibodeau told reporters after Saturday’s practice. “And that’s where we are. So, we felt the best thing for the team was to do that. So that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re always going to put the focus on that.”

The boos from the Garden crowd got louder after every Randle’s bricked shot and miscue, and they chanted Obi Toppin’s name to replace him. Randle was an abysmal 1 of 9 from the floor in 30 minutes. It was the sixth time this season and second in the last seven games that Randle was held to a single-digit. Randle, though had seven rebounds and six assists against three turnovers. But he had a team-worst minus-26 plus-minus.

Randle has not attended a postgame press conference in the last seven games. Over the previous two weeks, his only appearance was after team practice last January 11.

Randle’s numbers across the board have drastically dipped this season. His 18.8-point average is his lowest since the 2017-18 season, while his shooting percentages have regressed from 45.6 to 41.1 from the field and 41.1 to 30.8 from deep.

Again, all eyes will be on Randle when the Knicks face the Los Angeles Clippers in a Sunday matinee. Even if Randle and the team perform better against the Clippers, the media won’t stop asking tough questions.

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