Irked Knicks Coach Had Enough of Julius Randle Questions

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau

Getty Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks reacts during the second half against the Sacramento Kings.

New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau had enough of the Julius Randle questions in the wake of a report that Randle had a setback that led to the decision to end a comeback attempt and undergo a season-ending surgery.

“That decision is made,” Thibodeau told reporters after a lengthy back-and-forth discussion with The Athletic’s Fred Katz when asked to clarify Randle’s revealing interview with Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes which suggested the Knicks coach concealed his star forward’s setback with the media in his past interviews.

“We’re not going to talk about it anymore. We’re going to focus on what we have to focus on which is winning our next game. That’s it.”

The Knicks announced on April 4 that Randle will undergo a season-ending surgery after two months of rehabbing in the hopes of returning this season. A few hours later, Randle granted Haynes an interview.

“I want everyone to know that I did everything in my power to get back this season,” Randle told B/R. “That was my intention, to be playing right now. That’s why I didn’t opt for surgery when it happened. But what caused me to finally go through with getting surgery was about five weeks ago, I went through a full-contact session in pads and re-injured my shoulder. My [expletive] wasn’t stable. I felt like I was in the same state when I first dislocated it, and It’s been an uphill battle ever since.”

Tom Thibodeau Clarifies Julius Randle’s Setback

Thibodeau explained Randle experienced the setback in a controlled full-contact session where a Knicks assistant coach hit Randle with football pads.

“We felt there would be soreness,” Thibodeau said. “If it flares up a little bit, you want to see where he is the next day and that was the big thing. The next day we’ll take a look at it and then it doesn’t feel better, it got a little better then he had another setback then it’s telling him that it can’t be done. So the first time he goes out there, he gets hit again now you got to shut him down again. So I think he’s looking at that and he wants to give the team everything he has.”

It was a disappointing end to Randle’s third All-Star season in which the Knicks went 12-2 in January with him starting alongside OG Anunoby and Jalen Brunson.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Thibodeau said. So he gathered as much information as he could. He went through the process and then this is the best decision right now.”

Randle met with two specialists who warned him that there would always be the risk of re-injury and worse, it could lead to permanent damage.

“At the end of the day, I trust Julius and he’s got to trust his body right? So he took it as far as he could,” Thibodeau said. “I don’t want a guy out there that doesn’t feel comfortable being out there. I don’t think that’s right. So we’re going to support him. It’s disappointing. He was having a monster year.”

Randle will be re-evaluated in five months as the Knicks expect him to be ready by next season.

Where Will the Knicks Go From Here?

The Knicks showed resiliency in their first game since the deflating news of losing Randle for the remainder of the season.

They battled back from a 21-point deficit to beat the Sacramento Kings 120-109 at home, with Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart leading the way.

Brunson scored a game-high 35 points and added 11 assists as he constantly beat the Kings’ blitzing defense. Hart became Brunson’s release valve off the pick and roll as the undersized forward had a season-high 31 points with 9 rebounds and 8 assists in 44 minutes.

“Josh has stepped in and played great,” Thibodeau said. “Precious [Achiuwa] has really played well for us. Hopefully, we get OG back soon and then we go from there.”

Thibodeau shared that Anunoby has already started participating in 5-on-5 contact drills, a sign that his return is imminent.