There has been so much off-the-court drama with the New York Knicks over the last few years, it's made much of the team's problems on the floor take a backseat to owner James Dolan's decision-making.
From his public feud with Knicks legend Charles Oakley to another public feud with season-ticker holder Spike Lee, Dolan has kept the spotlight on himself while his team remains one of the league's worst. As New York Post reporter Marc Berman continues to analyze the state of the franchise, one thing has become eminently clear: There's as much dysfunction between the whistles as there is outside of them.
Most recently, Berman noted Knicks forward Julius Randle—the team's leading scorer (19.5 points per game)—has habits that are disrupting the development of his younger teammates:
"Nevertheless, some Knicks, including rookie RJ Barrett, were frustrated by Randle’s penchant for not distributing the ball quickly enough and overdribbling, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
"Randle became less of a turnover machine in the final two months and became a little less clunky on the drive. Still, the on-court chemistry between Randle and Barrett, who is used to having the ball in his hands, bears major watching next season. For the most part, Barrett kept quiet about the Randle situation."
Considering Randle is signed for the next two seasons—and will earn $18 million in each—while Barrett won't become a restricted free agent until 2023 at the earliest, this is a problem that won't be going away anytime soon.
What would help here is a strong coaching staff to help develop Barrett while ensuring Randle is able to remain a scoring threat, yet that's been hard to maintain under Dolan. The franchise fired coach David Fizdale in December after two seasons and named Mike Miller his interim replacement.
While the team might not be able to compete in the Eastern Conference, it's the lack of development that's proved most troubling on the court.
That starts with how the Knicks are using Randle and the detriment it's causing to the rest of the team.
"You can't argue with his productivity," a source told Berman of Randle's play. "But he was in the wrong role. He absolutely should not be your No. 1 or even No. 2 option, maybe not even No. 3 on a serious contender. He doesn’t have a good enough feel, [and is] much too ball-dominant. I don’t trust his decisions with the ball. As sixth man, he would fit perfectly because I don’t think he gives you much defensively either. That’s more in line with a sixth-man role."