Julius Randle could push Knicks away ‘James Harden way’

“The Julius Randle mystery” continued amid the dizziness of the Knicks’ fourth straight win over the Bulls on Monday.

The video of Randle marching off the court after getting the final rebound and throwing it away without celebrating with his teammates struck another sour tone, with the fanbase being burned by Randle’s “thumbs down” gesture.

It was a rough night for Randle, who scored just five points and sat much of the fourth quarter when Obi Toppin hit three 3-pointers in an electric run. Fans chanted “O-bi” as the young power forward sat on the bench and Randle fought his way through a 1-of-9 shot performance on the court.

Randle still has a sore quadriceps he’s playing through, but his body language on the bench during timeouts looked distracted.
MSG Network’s Alan Hahn and Wally Szczerbiak kicked off on the postgame show.

“You just wish that Julius would celebrate too, that he would enjoy it too,” said Hahn. “He walks off the court and throws the basketball away. Celebrate with your team.”

Szczerbiak noticed the Toppin-Randle phenomenon.

Julius Randle
The Knicks have won four straight games but Julius Randle didn’t look happy.
NBAE via Getty Images

“When Randle left the lineup [last week], it gave Obi Toppin the opportunity to get the start,” Szczerbiak said. “You can see how much his team-mates pick up on his game and the energy with which he plays. The audience loves him. They want to see him on the pitch. His team plays with a lot of joy. It’s about playing with joy and picking up your teammates.”

Randle took three games off last week to rest his quad and said Sunday he felt he was hurting the team. Fair enough.

But some people in the league feel he’s acting in a “James Harden way”, suggesting he might want a new job next season. Randle has lost his strongest ally in assistant coach Kenny Payne, his former mentor in Kentucky, who left earlier this month to become the head coach in Louisville. Some NBA sources believe the Knicks will shop Randle for a one-center package if they lose Mitchell Robinson.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau went on eggshells when discussing Randle, praising his 13 rebounds on Monday.

“You can play well if you don’t shoot well,” Thibodeau said.

Then Thibodeau talked about some areas where Randle doesn’t seem to be particularly good.

“No one is going to play every game well,” said Thibodeau. “But you can help a team with rushes, rebound, pick up an attack, chase a ball down and put up a great screen. Recognize Alec [Burks] going well – I will drive and look for him and find him.”

Randle, who barely touched the ball in the closing minutes, was unavailable for comment after defeating the Bulls.

Considering his difficult night and his ongoing injury, Randle may not be a guarantee to face Charlotte on Wednesday. The Knicks need to win 5-1 in their last six games to have any chance of catching the Hawks or Hornets for the play-in.

“If you can’t play, I still want you to give us what you can give us,” Thibodeau said. “Be on the bench, in the game, encourage, talk to the young people. Talk about things you see.”

Julius Randle
Julius Randle was plagued by a quadriceps injury.
NBAE via Getty Images

In the last minute of the Charlotte laugh, Randle left the bench and then stayed in the tunnel with a PR rep. But that’s nothing compared to his decision to no longer attend pre-game grid introductions for street games – instead staying at the back to warm up.

Sources claim a lack of leadership from Randle has hurt the club this season. A source said Randle sometimes gets dressed alone in a different area of ​​the dressing room.

Asked after Monday night’s win why it took the Knicks so long to win four straight straights, Thibodeau said cryptically, “We’ve got to do a deep dive after the season. I have some pretty good ideas as to why.”

The Knicks coach wouldn’t share them. But a person connected to the team recently described Randle’s behavior this season as “incorrigible.” The Post previously reported that Randle didn’t come into camp in the same shape he did last season, when he first became an All-Star.

Randle also had rows with umpires and players, and staged a midseason media boycott. He has been fined multiple times by the NBA, including after altercations with the Suns’ Cam Johnson and Jazz’s Rudy Gobert.

No one can pinpoint the exact cause of Randle’s odd behavior, but it’s not hard to imagine that Randle feels betrayed – perhaps rightly so – by the fans who taunt him early in the season after a slow start. There could also be potential jealousy over RJ Barrett convincing fans. The Garden has even chanted Barrett’s name during games when Randle far outstrips him.

Whatever it is, something is wrong. Julius Randle could push Knicks away ‘James Harden way’


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