A year ago, Julius Randle was emerging as the face of the New York Knicks.
Now it appears the Knicks aren't so sure.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reported the Knicks "might not be as sold" on Randle as they were when he signed a four-year, $117 million extension in August. Randle has not matched his All-NBA form of 2020-21 this season, and tensions between the forward and fans boiled over when he told fans to "shut the f--k up" after a win over the Boston Celtics earlier this month.
Berman reported the organization "encouraged" Randle to write an apology after the incident.
Randle is averaging 19.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game, solid numbers that nevertheless pale in comparison to his breakout last season. He's shooting nearly 10 full percentage points worse from three-point range (41.1 percent to 31.3 percent) while at times playing as an offensive black hole.
The Knicks have been outscored by 2.6 points per 100 possessions when Randle has been on the floor and have been outscoring their opponents by 7.6 points per 100 possessions when he sits. There have been several instances of coach Tom Thibodeau sitting his starters, Randle specifically, for long stretches when the bench units are thriving.
It's clear Randle isn't a foundational superstar. He can be the guy who is second or third in command of a really good team, but all historical signs point to 2020-21 being an outlier and 2021-22 being closer to the type of player he is long-term.
The Knicks can thrive with a player like Randle making $29 million a year; his contract doesn't kill their cap a great deal, and the team isn't bogged down on many long-term contracts. That said, there's only so far this team can go until it finds a superstar ready to unseat Randle as the 1A option.