It takes resilience and grit to be a great player in New York, as the media and fans can be extremely hostile. The New York Knicks have been a floundering organization for years, and not even Carmelo Anthony to take them to a title in his prime. Great players come and go, and it has been quite some time since the Knicks were a destination for stars around the league.
However, the rise of Julius Randle has attracted attention from some of the best players in the NBA, and the Knicks have a fantastic opportunity next FA period to acquire a star to pair with their leader.
This season, Julius has averaged 24.1 points, 5.9 assists, and 10.2 rebounds, all career highs. He is shooting .461 from the field and .420 from beyond the arc, almost 50% better than his previous success rate.
The development of Julius has been one of the best stories of the season, and heâ€™s made a transformation that nobody expected. Knick fans were ready to write him off this year and trade him at the deadline, but he has now become an indisposable factor that must be retained for the final year of his contract in 2022. Randle will account for $19.8 million and base salary next year, and if cut, the Knicks would only have to pay four million in dead money. However, they simply canâ€™t afford to let Randle walk, as he represents the catalyst behind their success.
Randle insists that he wants to be part of something special from the ground up, which is exactly what the Knicks have done this year with new head coach Tom Thibodeau.
“I want to be a part of building something from the ground up. There’s no better place than New York to do it, no better organization or fan base that’s hungrier … than here in New York,” Randle said on The Woj Pod. “I want to be a part of that, honestly, for the rest of my career. I wanted to be one of the greats here … I don’t think there would be any better place to win other than here.”
The 26-year-old All-Star’s influence hasn’t only seen his statistics increase, but he has helped rejuvenate and develop some of the Knicksâ€™ other players.
RJ Barrett has seen a major increase in production and efficiency this season with Randle by his side, and point guard Derrick Rose has turned back the clock and looked vintage at times. Thibodeau understands what he has in Julius â€” when he plays well, the team mirrors.
“That’s what you want from your best players … bringing out the best in his teammates,” said Thibodeau, who has been praising Randle for months. “And he’s doing it in every different aspect of the game, from the way he’s shooting the ball, the way he starts games, the playmaking, the defense, and just the way he works every day. You couldn’t ask for anything more. He’s having a terrific season and we want him to continue to grow and that’s what I love about him. He’s never satisfied — he wants to keep getting better.”