Julius Randle denies seeking a deal from Knicks after hearing boos

Julius Randle heard a lot of boos during the pregame introduction, but the Knicks’ highest-paid player strenuously dismissed any suggestion that he was seeking a trade in the offseason or that he wasn’t committed to the organization long-term.

“That’s not true, brother. That’s just not true, just like that, it’s not true at all,” Randle said Wednesday night. “If it doesn’t come from me, it’s not true.”

Randle had 21 points with seven assists, but the Knicks couldn’t fully eradicate a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter as their best winning streak of the season ended after four games in a 125-114 loss to the play-in-tied Hornets was in the garden.

The loss brought the Knicks’ tragic tally for elimination from play-in competition to one with five games remaining after the Hawks’ No. 10 blowout win in Oklahoma City.

“Just keep focusing on what we’re doing and getting better and then you’re not eliminated until you’re eliminated,” said Tom Thibodeau. “And then, when it’s you, judge what you want to get done.”

Randle’s at-time frustration and dissatisfaction has been evidenced by various instances this season, including a thumbs-down gesture and profane quotes to fans and multiple blasts with officials.

Julius Randle
Julius Randle
NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg

This year was a far cry from the two-sided love affair Randle had with New York a season earlier, when he was named an All-Star and NBA’s Most Improved Player for the first time in his career, earning him a four. Annual contract extension valued at $117 million.

The Post reported Wednesday that there are some in the league who believe Randle acted in a “James Harden way,” suggesting he may be trying to force an offseason trade.

Thibodeau was in disbelief when asked this week about another claim by a local radio host – dubbed an “unconfirmed rumor” – that Randle had already expressed he wanted out after Monday’s win at the Garden over Chicago

When asked directly if he thought Randle “wanted to be here,” Thibodeau replied, “Yes. So, as a coach, you train the players you have. And you love them all. And I do. If you play for me, I love you. It is really that easy. The challenge for us is to get the best out of each other.”

Randle had reaffirmed his signing earlier this season, but stressed after the game, “My answer doesn’t change, bro.”

“My goal and what I work hard for is to make the city proud and make the fans proud,” he said. “I play for my teammates; I play for my family and it’s as simple as that. It’s nothing more than that. Inside, it’s what it is and I understand that a lot of times you have to make your game and talk, but I love this city, mine Family loves it here and I love being a kink.”

Julius Randle
Julius Randle
NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Randle has been fined over $100,000 by the league this season for various misdemeanors, including saying “shut up” at a press conference in January to explain that he was watching fans at a game booed in the Garden with a thumbs-down gesture.

Randle also threw the ball away and went straight to the dressing room after Monday’s win. He scored five points in 1-on-9 shooting that game, and fans had once again chanted Obi Toppin for understudy.

Randle admitted the boos and chants were the hardest for his 5-year-old son Kyden and his family.

“That’s probably where most of my frustration comes from. I have my 5-year-old son there who is obsessed with the game of basketball, loves the game of basketball and doesn’t understand what’s going on,” Randle said. “That’s probably my biggest frustration – from him.

“But at the same time you have to understand that it comes with the territory. The story can always turn. I get that. I get it, it’s New York City. I understand how passionate our fans are. You just have to live with the good and the bad.”

After the pregame boos, Randle seemingly got the home crowd back on his side by nailing two early 3-pointers, and the Knicks shot 61.9 percent from the floor and trailed 31-29 in a quarter. RJ Barrett finished the first half with 17 points to keep the Knicks within three at the break 58-55

The Knicks were a dozen behind at 95-83 with 10-31 remaining, but a dunk by Barrett and a converted three-point play by Immanuel Quickley (16 points) pulled them up to two with just under six minutes to go. But a Windmill Slam and a corner 3 from Bridges extended Charlotte’s cushion back to 11 in the closing minutes.

“I thought we were a step behind all night and I thought the ball got where they wanted it,” Thibodeau said. “We didn’t feel comfortable playing defensively all night.” Julius Randle denies seeking a deal from Knicks after hearing boos


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