Report: Knicks' Julius Randle Was Never Offered Team USA Spot After Beal, Love Exits

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 18, 2021

New York Knicks' Julius Randle celebrates his shot in the third quarter against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in New York. (Elsa/Pool Photo via AP)
Elsa/Pool Photo via AP

The United States men's basketball team needed help heading into the Tokyo Olympics, but New York Knicks star Julius Randle was reportedly not offered a roster spot, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Team USA had two late openings with Bradley Beal entering the health and safety protocols and Kevin Love dropping out due to injury. The squad announced Friday those spots will be filled by JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson.

According to Berman, USA Basketball "heavily discussed" adding Randle but chose McGee due to his shot-blocking ability.

Johnson is less proven than other options, but he plays for USA head coach Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs and had already been practicing with the team in Las Vegas.

Randle was reportedly "amenable" to joining the team if asked, per Berman, but he was left out despite coming off a breakout season where he was the NBA's Most Improved Player.

The 26-year-old averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game this season, leading the Knicks to their first playoff appearance since 2013. After hitting 41.1 from three-point range this past season, Randle can also provide much of what the team was expecting from Love.

"His skill set is such that he can rebound, he can step out as a five-man and shoot the three, and that really gives us another tool that we can use," Popovich said of Love earlier this month when justifying the controversial selection.

Of course, scoring shouldn't be a problem for the Americans with elite offensive players like Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum and others on the roster. Randle would be another dangerous weapon, but the team would still be missing interior defenders besides Bam Adebayo.

McGee has averaged 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes over his career, significantly better than Randle's mark of 0.5. 

After the team's inconsistent play leading up to the Olympics, it appears Team USA is trying out a new strategy.