Julius Randle wants to be a member of the New York Knicks for the rest of his career.
“I love playing in New York. I want to retire as a New York Knick,” Randle told The Victory podcast.
The All-Star forward is having a breakout season in 2020-21, leading the Knicks to a surprise playoff berth.
He’s a shoo-in to win the league’s Most Improved Player of the Year award, and is likely to make his first All-NBA team in his seventh season. The former lottery pick is averaging a career-high 24.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists per. game, and setting personal bests in usage rate, VORP, and Box Plus-Minus.
Any way you slice (and fold) it: Randle’s game – and his relationship to the city, franchise, and fanbase — has dramatically improved, and all parties want the relationship to continue thriving for years to come.
The Knicks could seek to extend Randle this summer after picking up his $20 million option for next season, or they can wait until 2022 to reach a long-term agreement.
Randle spent his first campaign in New York as Public Enemy No. 1 on #KnicksTwitter (that designation has now fallen to Elfrid Payton). This season, the power forward has jibed with head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Instead of recklessly and repeatedly bowling into traffic, he’s setting up his teammates. He’s shooting 41.5 percent from downtown, and his defensive improvement has been glaring.
His performance, leadership, and night-to-night effort have turned him into a cult hero and franchise building block — a development that seemed incomprehensible one year ago.
Now, MVP chants at Madison Square Garden are a regular occurrence. Votes — and an extension — should come next.