Julius Randle has gone from fan favorite to public enemy in less than a year amongst Knicks fans, as his season of regression continues amid reports that the team would listen to trade offers if teams met their asking price.
Randle, last year’s Most Improved Player, has been criticized for poor play, poor effort, giving the home crowd a thumbs down in a message to silence their boos, and has watched his team eat a fine for not making Randle available to the media during his brutal slump.
But Randle, talking to reporters after Friday’s shootaround before New York’s game against the Bucks, insists that he is still committed to turning things around and getting back to his 2020-21 self, even if his behavior at times has given off an uninterested or defeated vibe.
“I’m not gonna be happy and be all about it when things are good and just because it’s not necessarily going the way I want it to or the team wants it to run and hide,” Randle said, via The Athletic. “I’m still behind this. I’m still sticking it through.”
Randle was the City’s hero less than a year ago, becoming the face of the Knicks’ surge to their first postseason berth in nearly a decade. He earned a $117 million contract extension because of it, but now, many are motivated to figure out if other teams would eat that contract in a trade to get Randle out of New York. But even as a once loving fanbase shows its disdain, Randle says he still is right where he wants to be.
“I wouldn’t change it,” Randle said. “I still wanna be a part of it. I still wanna see this thing through. I still wanna be a part of helping trying to bring a championship to the Knicks.”
“We’ll figure it out. I’ll figure it out. We got the team, we got the talent.”
Randle is currently a part of a starting lineup that has been the least efficient in the NBA this season, and Randle’s shooting percentage has plummeted in the process. Over the last 10 games, he is shooting just 37 percent from the field and 24 percent from downtown, with New York going 4-6 in that span, five of those losses coming in the last six games. The Knicks will only make their way back into the playoff picture if their All-Star returns to form, and while it might look like he is far from that player on the floor, and at times looks like he doesn’t want to be that player, Randle says he is embracing the challenge.
“It’s been hard, but like my man J. Cole says, there’s beauty in the struggle,” Randle said. “It’s a struggle. We’re trying to figure it out. But this is really where you find out what people are about. This is when you find out about the character of the guys on your team.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1