Knicks Notes: Randle, Toppin, Fournier, Trade Deadline, Barrett

After a slow start to the season, Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle says he’s not concerned with the reactions from the media or fans, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

I really don’t give a f— what anybody has to say, to be honest,” Randle said Wednesday. “I’m out there playing. Nobody knows the game out there better than I do, compared to what everybody has to say. So I really don’t give a s—. I just go out there and play.”

Randle scored 30 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and dished out four assists in New York’s 104-94 victory over Indiana on Tuesday, his first game back after contracting COVID-19. His season averages of 19.6 PPG, 10.1 RPG, and 4.9 APG on .423/.327/.767 shooting are down from last season’s All-Star campaign, when he averaged 24.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 6.0 APG on .456/.411/.811 shooting.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • In a member-only article for the New York Post, Marc Berman spoke to NBA experts to explore what has been hindering Obi Toppin‘s three-point shot. The second-year forward has carved out a rotational role off the bench this season, but is shooting just 21.1% from deep on 1.7 attempts per game.
  • Free agent addition Evan Fournier had been struggling of late, but coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t consider sending him to the bench, according to Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post. “Not really,” Thibodeau said Wednesday, when asked if he had considered trying Fournier with the second unit. Never known for his defense, Fournier was shooting a career-low 40.3% from the field through 37 games this season, all starts. “Even when he’s not shooting, he spaces the floor for us, so I do like that aspect,” Thobodeau said. “The one thing [is] about trying to get our second unit to stay intact as much as we can. Those guys have played really well together for a while now.” Fournier justified Thibodeau’s faith by erupting for 41 points against Boston on Thursday.
  • Thibodeau was a driving force behind the team signing Fournier in the offseason, sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who explores moves the Knicks might consider making at the trade deadline. Fischer notes that the Knicks have had internal discussions about acquiring Ben Simmons, but they’ve never called the Sixers with any type of deal structure, according to league sources. Fischer also writes that freeing a roster spot by becoming involved in the Rajon Rondo trade gives New York added flexibility ahead of the deadline.
  • In order for the Knicks to become a legitimate title contender, the team needs 21-year-old RJ Barrett to develop into a star, Ian O’Connor of the New York Post opines. Like Randle, Barrett had a strong performance on Tuesday, scoring 32 points, but his shooting percentages are down this season compared to last. Barrett banked in a game-winning three at the buzzer to beat the Celtics 108-105 on Thursday night.
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