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#pounditSunday, July 21, 2024

Julius Randle clashing with Knicks over load management attempts?

Julius Randle smiles during a game

Nov 8, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) reacts against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first half at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

An annual tradition may already be here for the New York Knicks — drama with Julius Randle.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Post reports this week that the star big man Randle has not been seeing eye-to-eye with the Knicks lately over his health situation. Randle, who underwent ankle surgery in the offseason, reportedly resisted attempts from the Knicks to get him to rest in first week or so of the regular season. Bondy notes that Randle was operating at about 70 percent in the early going and had been battling pain in the ankle. But as a player who is committed to availability, Randle has played in all eight games for the Knicks thus far this season.

It is easy to tell that Randle still isn’t quite right. He has managed just 16.6 points per game to this point, which is way below his average of 22.2 for his Knicks career. Randle also owns vile shooting splits of 32/26/67 (though he has made progress lately with back-to-back 20-point double-doubles in the Knicks’ last two games).

Many will applaud Randle, who plays some of the heaviest minutes in the league every year and led the NBA with 37.6 minutes per game in 2020-21, for the old-school menality of refusing to miss games unless he absolutely has to. But one has to wonder if Randle’s bullheadedness is coming at the expense of the Knicks as a team. They opened the season 2-4 with Randle’s gross inefficiency playing a big part in that. While the Knicks have won their last two straight, Randle playing himself into shape over the first handful of games has already put the team behind the 8-ball a bit in the East.

It probably isn’t easy to get through to the former All-Star Randle, who has been something of a prima donna throughout his Knicks tenure. The Knicks badly need Randle too since they let backup power forward Obi Toppin leave as a free agent last summer (leaving 6-foot-4 Josh Hart as Randle’s de facto backup this season). But if Randle keeps trucking along to the detriment of the team’s performance and/or his own health, the Knicks might have to step in at some point to protect the player from himself.

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