After a 24-game improvement from the previous season that earned them the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, most hoop fans expected the New York Knicks front office to improve their roster this summer. After a slow start to the NBA free agency period, the Knicks have started to pick up steam and make moves that they hope with catapult them towards being a true contender in the East.
And they solidified that status by securing a major piece, forward Julius Randle, with a contract extension this week.
That comes after big news on the point-guard front. After being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder from the Boston Celtics this past June, four-time NBA All-Star Kemba Walker is set to reach a buyout agreement with the Thunder. Once he clears waivers, Walker, a New York City native is expected to sign a deal to join the Knicks. Last season Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game.
Knicks Ink Julius Randle To Huge Extension
One of the pleasant surprises for Knicks fans last season was discovering that they had an absolute star in Julius Randle. Randle had a breakout season in which he averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. All of which were career highs for the former Kentucky Wildcat. Randle’s breakout season earned him his first-ever NBA All-Star Game selection and he also became the first player in Knicks history to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.
As a reward for his breakout season in 2020, the Knicks front office inked Randle to a four-year $117 million contract extension according to a report from ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
“New York Knicks All-Star Julius Randle has agreed to a four-year, $117 million contract extension — elevating his deal’s total value to five years and $140 million, his agents Aaron Mintz and Steven Heumann of CAA Basketball tell ESPN,” Woj writes.
“Randle could’ve waited for his contract to expire next season and signed a new $200 million deal but extending now off his current $19.8 million salary for 2021-22 gives the Knicks financial flexibility to shape the roster and allows him to commit through his prime to a franchise and city he has come to adore — and one that has come to adore him.”
Did Knicks Jump the Gun Too Early on Randle Extension?
For as explosive of a regular season that Randle had in 2020, his postseason showing was equally as disappointing. In the Knicks’ first-round matchup against All-Star Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks, Randle was virtually invisible on the offensive side of the ball. He averaged 18.0 points on 29.8% shooting from the field as the Knicks were eliminated in five games.
Hall of Famer Reggie Miller believes that Randle’s struggles were more than just playoff nerves. Miller thinks that the Knicks need a superstar other than Randle for them to reach the next level as a contender.
“They need a superstar above Julius Randle,” Miller said per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “Because what the playoffs showed to me was a lot of his flaws. And Atlanta kind of highlighted that when they pressured him. He struggled to shoot the three — which he was great during the regular season. And it kind of showed his deficiencies. And if they’re going to build around him, that’s one thing. To me, I think they need a superstar.”
After locking up Randle long-term and a deal for Walker looming, the Knicks roster is starting to take shape as they prepare to improve even more in 2021.