Julius Randle Denies Bartering From Knicks After Hearing Boos

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Julius Randle heard a fair amount of booing during pregame introductions, but the Knicks’ highest-paid player strenuously denied suggestions that he’s seeking a trade in the off-season or that he’s not committed to the organization long-term.

‘That’s not true, brother. That’s just not true, it’s not that simple,” Randle said Wednesday night. “If it didn’t come from me, it ain’t true.”

Randle scored 21 points with seven assists, but the Knicks were unable to fully close a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter as their season-best winning streak ended after four games in a 125-114 loss to the play-in-bound Hornets at the Garden.

The loss dropped the Knicks’ tragic tally from play-in-fight to one with five games remaining after the No. 10 Hawks in Oklahoma City.

“Keep your focus on what we’re doing and get better, and then you’re not out until you’re out,” said Tom Thibodeau. “And when you are, you assess what you want to get done.”

Randle’s intermittent frustration and unhappiness has been proven by several instances this season, including thumbs down gestures and profane quotes aimed at fans and multiple outbursts with officials.

Julius Randle
NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg

This year was a far cry from the mutual love affair Randle enjoyed with New York a season ago when he was named All-Star for the first time in his career and the NBA’s most improved player, earning him a four-year mark. one-year contract extension worth $117 million.

The Post reported on Wednesday that there are some in the league who believe Randle has behaved in a “James Harden-esque” manner, suggesting he might try to force a trade in the off-season.

Thibodeau was incredulous when asked about a further claim by a local radio host this week — which was framed as an “unconfirmed rumor” — that Randle had already said he wanted to leave after Monday’s win over Chicago at the Garden.

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

Randle had made his commitment earlier this season, but he insisted after the game: “My answer won’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 that simple. It’s nothing more than that. Looking from the inside out, it is what it is, and I understand you often have to do your game, talk, but I love this city, my family loves it here and I love having a Knick to be.”

Julius Randle
Julius Randle
NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Randle has been fined more than $100,000 this season by the league for several violations, including for saying “shut the fk up” in a January press conference for his use of a thumbs-down gesture to cheer fans on. during a game in the Garden.

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

Randle admitted that the booing and singing 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 over there who is obsessed with basketball, loves basketball and he doesn’t understand what’s going on,” Randle said. “That’s probably my biggest frustration coming from him.

“But at the same time, you have to understand that it’s part of the territory. The story can always turn. I understand that. I understand 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 pre-game boos, Randle seemingly got the home crowd back on their side by grabbing two early 3-pointers, and the Knicks shot 61.9 percent from the floor, trailing 31-29 to a quarter. RJ Barrett finished the first half with 17 points to keep the Knicks within three, 58-55 at halftime

The Knicks trailed by a dozen, 95-83, with 10:31 to go, but a dunk from Barrett and a converted three-point play from Immanuel Quickley (16 points) pulled them in two with just under six minutes left. But a windmill slam and a corner 3 from Bridges extended the Charlotte cushion back to 11 in the closing minutes.

“I thought we were one step behind all night and I thought the ball got where they wanted it,” said Thibodeau. “We didn’t feel good about the way we played defensively all night.”

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