Knicks’ Leon Rose breaks silence on Randle, Thibodeau struggles

Knicks President Leon Rose, in his first comments since September, gave embattled coach Tom Thibodeau and embattled power forward Julius Randle a vote of confidence ahead of Sunday’s season finale against the Raptors.

Rose gave no indication that he’s firing Thibodeau or trading Randle, acknowledging that Randle is one of three NBA players who average 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while saying the coach has “among the done a good job.” However, Rose admitted that Randle wasn’t. t “comfortable” this season.

“Julius is a passionate gamer,” Rose said on the MSG Network. “Everything went well last year. Things didn’t go well this year. Things happened on the pitch, we saw some emotions come out, saw some things happen. I think it affected his game at times. He felt remorse for some of those things, as he expressed to fans in the letter he sent.

“[He] sometimes just wasn’t comfortable. It just wasn’t comfortable. He did his best. The 3 point shot just didn’t go like it did last year and you had teams that responded to it more this year. In the end he made some adjustments. I was proud that he fought his way through.”

Leon Rose
Leon Rose
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Julius Randle
Julius Randle
USA TODAY sports

Alongside praising Thibodeau and Randle, Rose said the team will continue to negotiate with Knicks center Mitchell Robinson until free agency begins on July 1 to determine if they can work out a contract extension.

In terms of future moves, Rose said the club will remain “very flexible” as “opportunities” arise.

Rose chose to only break his silence with Garden CEO James Dolan’s internal network. Rose didn’t answer questions from the Knicks beat writers Sunday, nor has he since mid-September.

Rose spoke on the pregame show in what appeared to be a taped and edited interview to explain the team’s dismal decline after last season’s 41-31 record.

“I feel like it’s been a disappointing season in terms of wins and losses,” said Rose. “We’ll be looking at that closely after the season to assess everyone. In the first year it clicked. This year it didn’t click from the start. We faced adversity. We had some tough stretches.”

Rose hired Thibodeau on a five-year deal and despite the lost season, he doesn’t want to make a move after his hire became the 2021 NBA Coach of the Year.

“In terms of Thibs’ performance, I think he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA,” said Rose. “Obviously none of us are happy with the results this year. But he’s a guy who prepares our team better than anyone. I feel like he did a good job given the circumstances.”

Thibodeau could not get Randle to be a leader. Randle shut it down for the final five games of the season. Rose says he thinks Randle wants to be here next season. The Post reported that people in the league feel Randle is acting “James Harden-style” to force a change.

When asked by host Mike Breen if Randle told him he wanted to be here, the former CAA agent said: “Yes, he has. Julius loves it here in New York, wants to be in New York.”

Tom Thibodeau
Tom Thibodeau
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There are signs the Knicks could easily lose Robinson to free agency, but Rose wouldn’t rule out a contract extension before July 1.

“There have been discussions with his agent throughout the year and those discussions are ongoing and will continue for the rest of the time leading up to free agency,” Rose said.

Robinson received credit from the Knicks president, who said he’s had “a phenomenal year,” but additional points like “injury history” are taken into account. Robinson missed most of last season with a broken foot and hand.

“He’s been our anchor on defense and has really made a good move this year,” said Rose. “And even showed us a bit on offense, especially that through the legs, then down the lane for the dunk.”

The silver lining is the team’s youth, Rose said, pointing to nine players under 21. “We have seen a good development and continue to build on it.” Knicks’ Leon Rose breaks silence on Randle, Thibodeau struggles


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