The season is all but lost for the New York Knicks after a buzzer-beater defeat against the Phoenix Suns on Friday night. Losing by just one point, the Knicks had a fantastic opportunity to overcome one of the best teams in basketball, despite not having Chris Paul available. Now, New York faces certain demise, sitting at 25–38 on the season and having failed to win a game in over three weeks.
However, the problems the team faces aren’t only short-term, their long-term future is also in question, especially with power forward Julius Randle struggling this season on the basketball court and behind the scenes.
In the last of Phoenix, Randle scored 25 points before being ejected in the third quarter after an altercation with Cam Johnson.
“He was hooping, carrying us tonight, he was on his way to a 40-point night,’’ RJ Barrett said of Randle, via Marc Berman of the NY Post. “It would’ve helped us with the energy he brought to the game. But we still should’ve won that game.
Julius Randle was ejected for this exchange.
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“You can’t cross over that line,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You got to know where to stop. None of us are perfect. We’re going to make mistakes. But we got to be disciplined.’’
Thibodeau has failed to get his star player in line this season, and after signing a four-year, $117 million this past off-season, New York is on the hook unless they find a viable trade partner.
The reality is simple, Randle can’t carry the Knicks alone, and RJ Barrett still isn’t where he needs to be with his consistency. This year, Randle has seen his efficiency drop significantly, averaging 19.8 points per game and shooting 30.1% from deep. Despite his down year, the Knicks can’t compete without him, putting the team in a weird complex of power.
“It’s tough to lose him. He had a great game going. I’m concerned about everything. The shame of it is I thought we came out with a great effort to start the game. We had the game going in a good way, and we fell short in the end. It’s disappointing to come out with a loss.’’
The only way Randle’s contract will be justified is if the Knicks pair him with another star, preferably a point guard. This upcoming off-season will be interesting, but unless they can find and convince a player to join their ranks, they will be facing the same issue over and over for the duration of his contract.