The latest on-court outburst by New York Knicks star Julius Randle has caught the attention of both fans and media pundits alike.
The big man’s decision to get in the face of an official after a questionable no-call Thursday night against Orlando, followed by a confrontation between him and Immanuel Quickley directly after, has seemingly lapped itself within the New York-based news cycle during Friday’s circuit.
On the latest edition of The Michael Kay Show, former Knicks coach and current ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy brought his own spin to the Randle hoopla, going as far as to suggest that the All-Star’s hostile temperament when things aren’t going his way could ultimately wind up being a detriment to the club once they head into the postseason.
“When you’re in the playoffs, every possession there’s…obviously more meaning, more pressure. It’s going to be more physical so you’re going to take more hits and bumps that are not called and if you can’t handle, as a team or as an individual, physical play or calls that don’t go your way or bad runs in a game then you’re not going to have the mental fortitude to be able to endure and win playoff games and playoff series. You need your best player to play their best when their best is needed and the only way to do that is if you have mental strength,” Van Gundy said.
Instances such as these have unfortunately become a rather regular occurrence for the Knicks big, which, should one hold Van Gundy’s comments to be true, could cap the ball club’s potential moving forward with Julius Randle remaining in the picture.
Van Gundy Has Lacking Faith That Knicks Can Advance
Though many have already penciled the New York Knicks in for a deep playoff run in 2023, with one anonymous executive going as far as to suggest that they could even make it as far as an NBA Finals berth, Jeff Van Gundy doesn’t seem to be so optimistic.
During his appearance on The Michael Kay Show, he pulled the reigns back on any excitement or assumptions that some fans and other analysts may currently have heading into the final stretch of the regular season.
He refrained from even suggesting that the club will wind up even making the playoffs this season and stated that the only way he believes the Knicks have a chance of advancing should they clinch a top-eight seed in the Eastern Conference is if they are matched up against the Cleveland Cavaliers in round one.
“First they have to qualify for the playoffs. I’m not like everybody else assuming. Secondly, the only chance they have to get to the second round is if they play Cleveland, right, and to do that there’s work to be done. And Cleveland would still be a prohibitive favorite but they’d have a fighting chance,” Van Gundy said.
If the season were to end today, it would be New York and Cleveland squaring off in the quarterfinals.
And while this may be an enticing matchup for some to envision, Van Gundy, along with Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report and several others seem to believe that the Cavaliers could have the upper hand right out of the gates.
Knicks Coach Aims Focus on Quentin Grimes’ Efforts
Though New York may be on a three-game losing streak, throughout this span there have still proven to be a few bright spots that have shined through.
One of which has been the recent play of sophomore guard Quentin Grimes, who, over his last few outings is posting 16.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists on 58.1% shooting from the floor and 57.1% shooting from deep.
Following the Knicks’ latest crushing loss to the Magic, head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke out about Grimes’ on the floor down in Florida.
“[He was] just aggressive, you know. Not hesitating on his shot. [He] put [the ball] on the floor, made some good plays. Got some steals,” Thibodeau said.
Grimes finished the night with an impressive all-around stat line of 25 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals while shooting 55.6% from the floor and 50.0% from deep.
His showing in Orlando registered as the first time in his career that he’s posted 20+ points in two consecutive games, as he put up 22 the previous night against the Miami Heat.