Both forward Julius Randle and the New York Knicks franchise walked out of the 2020-2021 season decorated in awards and honors, but neither party will be involved in the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo this summer.
Team USA’s 12-man roster was formally announced on Monday morning, and neither the All-Star or one of his teammates of the orange and blue were listed.
This comes after Randle put together an All-NBA and All-Star 2020-2021 campaign, that also saw him win the Most Improved Player award. He averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and six assists across 71 games played for the Knicks.
Ultimately, Team USA opted for Kevin Love over Julius Randle, a move that on it’s face seems almost comically incorrect, particularly to fans of the New York Knicks.
But Jerry Colangelo, the international program’s Managing Director, backed it up on a conference call Monday afternoon.
Colangelo: ‘Randle Was Right There’
On a conference call with reporters and media members on Monday, Jerry Colangelo was asked directly about Julius Randle’s absence from the 15-man roster.
He responded complimentary of the Knicks’ forward’s growth this season, but ultimately chalked him up to a reoccurring trend of great players not making it:
Regardless of who you select, there’s always a few names that come up regarding, why weren’t they there rather than someone else? The process of looking at players and following players—Randle, by way of example, was right there. He was one of our considerations, especially once some of the injuries took place and we lost a few players. He had a great year this year, he really did. And he’s come a long way.
Kevin Love is coming off of a 13th career year that saw him suit up just 25 times for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He’s played just 103 out of 219 possible games since LeBron James departed the team in 2018, and his behavior across those three seasons would probably best be described as petulant, or restless.
Still, Colangelo defended the selection, citing his experience internationally, and overall skillset:
I guess the best reason to say, why Kevin Love as an extra big, is because of his international experience. Yes, it’s true he hasn’t played much of anything over these last couple of years. But the skills he brings to the table, the commitment he has made regarding physical conditioning, he is a versatile guy up front who can rebound and hit shots. Who’s to say how many minutes guys are going to play? You’re not playing 12 players. So it was a matter of filling out the roster with role players. Randle was close. The choice was made by our staff. So that’s what we are going with.
It’s unlikely Julius Randle will be losing sleep over this snub among all potential snubs, and who’s to say he would have even accepted the invitation?
For now, it’s likely both he and the New York Knicks are comfortable just continuing to prepare for the 2021-2022 season, arguably the most important one in recent history for the franchise.
Magic: ‘Superstars Are Gonna Want to Play Here Now’
On a recent episode of Keyshawn, JWill, and Zubin, Hall of Fame point guard and former NBA executive Magic Johnson made a bold claim on the New York Knicks chances at a star:
Superstars are gonna want to play here now…I think because they made the run and got to the playoffs, and the city is alive about the Knicks, I think now guys are looking and saying ‘Hey if I put myself in that lineup with Julius Randle and Quickley, Barrett, on and on and on, we could do something special.’
This all comes after the team turned the page and a new leaf this season, finishing 41-31, the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, and making the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
And it was Julius Randle who lead them there.
Just as he’ll lead them next season, whether another star joins him or not.