Knicks Rumors: Thibodeau Having Trouble Getting Julius Randle to Play Selflessly

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 31, 2022

New York Knicks' Julius Randle drives past Milwaukee Bucks' Khris Middleton during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 123-108. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash

New York Knicks big man Julius Randle has regressed following his four-year, $117 million extension signed in the offseason, which could be a result of trying to live up to the contract.

"Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has admitted to associates he's had more trouble getting Randle to play with a selflessness this season than during last season," an NBA source told Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Some in the organization reportedly believe he's trying to score more to justify his deal.

If that's the case, the plan hasn't worked. Randle's scoring average (18.5 points per game) is significantly lower than last year's breakout season (24.1 points per game). His assists have also dropped from 6.0 to 5.0 per contest. 

Randle was the NBA's Most Improved Player last season, earning his first All-Star selection before being named second-team All-NBA. The production helped the Knicks finish fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, good enough for the organization's first playoff appearance in seven years.

It's been a much different story in 2021-22. After hitting a career-high 41.1 percent of his three-pointers last year, Randle is down to 30.6 percent this season. His effective field-goal percentage has dropped from 51.6 to 46.3.

After ranking 15th in the NBA with 7.8 win shares, he's now tied for 147th in the same category with 2.0. 

New York has suffered as a team, entering Monday with a 23-27 record that ranks 12th in the conference.

Randle has averaged 15.0 points and made just 38.7 percent of his field goals over the last seven games. The Knicks are 1-6 in that stretch.

Regardless of the reason for Randle's struggles, it's clear the team is not getting its money's worth from the 27-year-old forward. It could cause New York to trade him ahead of the Feb. 10 deadline, with Berman reporting "everything is on the table."