New York Notes: Randle, Brunson, Durant, Bridges, Claxton

Playing in the All-Star Game was the latest sign of a much happier season for Knicks forward Julius Randle, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Randle, who was selected among the Eastern Conference reserves, is in the midst of a strong bounce-back campaign, averaging 24.8 points and 10.8 rebounds through 60 games. He has adapted to a ball-sharing role in New York’s offense that came with the offseason addition of Jalen Brunson.

Randle was also selected for the game in 2021, but he went through a difficult year between his two All-Star appearances. He battled with fans and the media for much of last season and often appeared angry as the Knicks fell short of the playoffs. He credits this year’s turnaround to a visit during the summer from associate head coach Johnnie Bryant.

“One of the biggest things was he was like, you know, just talking about the year before,” Randle said. “And he said something like along the lines of — if you were your teammate and saw you acting the way that you did sometimes, body language, showing frustration, whatever it was, would you want to be your teammate? And I was like, no. I had to look at myself in the mirror and take accountability and get better and learn from it.”

There’s more from New York City:

  • Brunson has solved the Knicks‘ long-standing problem at point guard and should be viewed as the foundation to build a title contender around, contends Ian O’Connor of The New York Post.
  • Kevin Durant‘s emotional response when talking about his time with the Nets could benefit the franchise moving forward, suggests Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. Sanchez notes that players frequently discuss their future at the All-Star Game, just as Durant and Kyrie Irving did before teaming up in Brooklyn. Sanchez believes Durant would give a positive review to anyone who asks about his time with the Nets, adding that the team’s front office didn’t try to create a bidding war because they knew Durant wanted to go to Phoenix.
  • The acquisition of Mikal Bridges in the Durant deal could give the Nets two members of the All-Defensive Team for the first time in franchise history, according to a NetsDaily article. Bridges was runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, and center Nic Claxton has become a dominant rim protector.
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