Knicks Struggling To Get Randle To Play Unselfishly; Time For Trade?

Julius Randle, New York Knicks, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

Many people believed the New York Knicks’ run to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference last season was a sign of things to come. They were finally on the right path after being so bad for so long, but they have met some obstacles during the 2021-22 NBA season.

Things got off to an excellent start as the Knicks were 5-1 to start the season. Now, just over a week before the NBA trade deadline, New York is on the outside looking in of the NBA Play-In Tournament in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks have struggled to find the same consistency that they had last season, which led to so much success. They no longer have the hard-nosed defensive identity that they had last season, which has led to some uninspiring outings against underwhelming teams. For example, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic have 26 wins combined this season, but three of them have come against the Knicks.

A big reason for the team’s regression this season is the play of Julius Randle. Randle was excellent last season, turning into an All-Star and earning a spot in the All-NBA Second Team. He carried the team throughout much of the season, setting the tone with his effort, energy and hustle. This season, those attributes have not been present consistently.

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According to the New York Post, an NBA source shared that head coach Tom Thibodeau admitted he is struggling to get Julius Randle to buy in this season as he did last season. Some observers believe the $117 million contract that he signed is playing a part. He wants to score more to live up to the contract. Making winning plays, however, is what he should be focused on.

During his first season in The Big Apple, Randle pressed as well. He tried to force things offensively so that he could live up to the contract that the team signed him to. A lot of those shortcomings have popped back up this season.

Offensively, he is making some poor decisions. He struggles to feel when a double-team is coming, resulting in turnovers. The confidence he exuded last season shooting the ball has waned this season.

There have been multiple instances he has been set up for a wide-open jump shot, but he hesitates to attempt the shot. That hesitation usually results in him forcing up an ill-advised shot or turning the ball over, as he tries to do jump passes and has been called for traveling on multiple occasions.

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Poor performance is something that fans can get over. Everyone has an off day, but if you are doing your best to overcome struggles, they will appreciate the effort. However, lack of effort is something fans will not accept, and they have gotten on Randle for it numerous times.

There are too many instances this season of Julius Randle playing lackadaisical on defense, not playing with the heart and passion needed to win games. Virtually every teammate has better stats when Randle is off the court, which is never a good sign.

New York Knicks fans want to see their guys try. That is all they ask for. If you give effort, they will appreciate it. If not, they will let you hear it with their displeasure, which Randle has not reacted well to.

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But, if New York is to get things on track, Randle needs to pick up his level of play. Thibodeau acknowledged he made some against the Milwaukee Bucks last week, but it is something that needs to be done more consistently.

“Work your way through it. There’s a lot of good plays he made in the Milwaukee game,” Thibodeau said. “I don’t want to measure him on just scoring points. There’s the rebounding, passing, team defense, individual defense, leading us through adversity. He’s going to get a lot of attention because of who he is. We have to work through it as a team. It’s how can we help each other.’’

There has been a lot of trade chatter centered around the Knicks and Randle has been a part of some of those rumors. If the coaching staff is unable to get through to him the remainder of this season and get him back near the level he was at last season, a trade is likely the next course of action.

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De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings is one player that has been linked to the team. A trade before the deadline next week seems unlikely, but it is certainly something that Leon Rose, Scott Perry and William Wesley could explore in the offseason if the New York Knicks fall short of the playoffs and Julius Randle does not turn things around on the court.