Julius Randle’s Beef With Knicks Fans Deepens With Calls for Replacement

Julius Randle, Knicks

Getty Julius Randle, Knicks

Julius Randle tried to issue an NBA staple: the Instagram apology. But Knicks fans, it turns out, were not so ready to forgive and forget after he’d gotten into a tussle with team backers by flashing a thumbs-down sign and using a press conference to tell fans to, “Shut the f*** up,” when the Knicks beat Boston last week.

Back on his home floor for an R.J. Barrett-led win over the Spurs, Randle got more of the hooting from the MSG faithful and responded with his worst performance of the season, a two-point outing on 1-for-7 shooting. It was his lowest point production in his three-year Knicks career and put an exclamation mark on what has been a rock-bottom week for the star big man.

Randle missed all three of his 3-point tries and did grab 12 rebounds with three assists. His night ended with what the Daily News’ Stefan Bondy labeled a, “frustration foul.” Bondy wrote on Twitter: “Knicks win but Julius Randle situation only gets worse. His night ended with a frustration foul and a beeline to the bench, with the crowd booing and then chanting for his replacement, Obi Toppin.”

Toppin had six point and three rebounds in 14 minutes played.

Thibs Defends Julius Randle

After the game, coach Tom Thibodeau came to the defense of Randle, as he frequently does, pointing out that Randle is the team’s “primary scorer” and needs to remain focused on reading defenses and passing when necessary. Indeed, Randle has led the team this season with 19.0 points per game.

But his last four outings, since coming back from a stint on the COVID-19 health and safety protocols list, have gotten worse as we’ve gone on. He scored 30 in a triumphant return, but that dropped to 22 the following night (on 8-for-20 shooting), 13 after that (on 6-for-19 shooting) and now, two. Said Thibs:

Julius made some good reads. They were doing a lot of switching and coming from the baseline. When he sprays the ball out like that, good things, we are going to get good shots from that. Guys getting to their spots, that’s important for him so he has the outlets.

I just want him to play the game. The type of attention he is going to get because of who he is, look, if he gets the ball and there is a commitment they’re overloading to the strong side, right? They’re coming from the baseline. I want him to make the right play, I don’t want him to fight pressure with pressure. I don’t want him to try to split things, I just want him to hit the open man because we can play off that.

Knicks Had an Outstanding Shooting Night vs. Spurs

In the end, of course, the Knicks won the game. They won the minutes that Randle was on the floor—he was a plus-16—and had an outstanding shooting night beyond his woeful numbers. The Knicks shot 48.8% from the field and 40.6% from the 3-point line.

Thibodeau said that creating good shots for all five guys on the floor is what we should be focused on.

“That’s how I measure his game,” the coach said. “And what’s the impact on winning? Winning is the most important thing, I don’t get caught up in how many points someone scores or how many rebounds they have, I want to know how the team is doing when you’re on the floor.”



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