Julius Randle

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Mitchell, Timberwolves, Murray

Down 2-1 against the Mavericks without shooting guard Luka Doncic, the lone All-Star for Dallas this season, the Jazz face a probable must-win Game 4 at home today, per Tony Jones of The Athletic. Jones considers the contest to be a critical moment for not just Utah’s season, but also for the future of its core roster: All-Star center and Defensive Player of the Year finalist Rudy Gobert, All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, pricey veteran point guard Mike Conley, and forward Bojan Bogdanovic.

“It’s a game that we gotta have,” Conley said of the Jazz’s mentality heading into the game. “We’re still a confident team. In no way, shape or form is this series over.”

“It’s up to us to adjust quicker on the fly on the court,” Gobert said. “We shouldn’t have to wait until halftime in order to start playing well. I like what we did in the second half. I like what we did defensively. The offense takes care of itself when we play that way defensively. Now, the question is can we have that mindset and maintain that mindset for 48 minutes?”

Jones contends that the Jazz should consider emphasizing small-ball lineups without Gobert during key stretches against Dallas today.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Several Jazz staffers were “surprised and upset” to see Knicks executive William Wesley and star power forward Julius Randle sitting courtside during the Jazz’s Game 1 matchup against the Mavericks, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley notes that All-Star Utah guard Donovan Mitchell and breakout Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson, an unrestricted free agent this summer, have long been rumored New York targets. Mitchell is in the first season of a five-year, maximum-salary rookie contract extension he signed with the Jazz during the 2020 offseason, and would have to be moved in a trade to join the Knicks.
  • After coughing up a 25-point second half lead, the Timberwolves eventually fell to the Grizzlies in Minnesota to lose a critical Game 3 of their first-round series on Thursday, 104-95. Memphis is now up 2-1. The Timberwolves can still make this a series despite the demoralizing defeat, opines Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Krawczynski says the Wolves need to clamp down on defense throughout the contest and get All-Star center Karl Anthony-Towns more engaged on offense, steering him clear of unnecessary fouls.
  • Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson, who missed back-to-back seasons with ACL and Achilles tears, appreciates Nuggets guard Jamal Murray‘s decision to not rush his return from his own ACL tear this season, writes Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “I would just tell Jamal to keep in mind the big picture. He’s got a decade of greatness ahead of him. No need to compromise that now,” Thompson said in a lengthy conversation with Singer. “Fans are kind of unrealistic. They don’t realize how much it takes to build back your muscle to be able to compete at this level. This is the best basketball in the world. You don’t want to put your whole future at risk just because of win right now.” Thompson, Heat guard Victor Oladipo and Bulls guard Zach LaVine, all have helped Murray navigate his rehab.
  • In the same piece, Singer notes that Murray has yet to be officially ruled out from returning, though the Nuggets are all but eliminated from the postseason now, with the Warriors leading in their first round series against Denver 3-0. “We’re never going to take any short-term view with any of our players, and any decision on Jamal’s return will be made collectively,” Nuggets president Tim Connelly said. “Jamal’s among the toughest and most competitive guys in our league and is eager to play, but organizationally, we can’t be irresponsible with his return. His best days are undoubtedly ahead of him.” 

New York Notes: Knicks, Randle, Offseason, Simmons

Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News lists five offseason questions facing the Knicks, including whether the team will try to acquire free agent guard Jalen Brunson. New York has long been rumored to be interested in Brunson, and with his strong playoff performance so far — he’s averaging 32.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 5.0 APG on .507/.412/.850 shooting through three games — he should command a substantial contract.

Bondy also wonders whether the Knicks will pursue Donovan Mitchell or Bradley Beal this summer, among other questions facing the franchise.

Here’s more on the two teams based in New York:

  • The Knicks should part ways with Julius Randle this summer, opines Tommy Beer of BasketballNews.com. After becoming an All-Star, receiving a second-team All-NBA nod, and being named the league’s Most Improved Player in 2020/21, Randle had a tumultuous third season in New York. He was fined multiple times, had several incidents with the team’s fans, his numbers were down across the board, and his defense declined. Beer believes New York would still get a quality player in exchange for Randle, though he admits the team would undoubtedly be selling low on the talented forward.
  • Although they currently don’t have any cap space, the Knicks do have pathways to reshape their roster this summer, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link), who breaks down the team’s options in his offseason guide.
  • Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) explores how the Nets might use Ben Simmons if he returns to action against Boston — perhaps in Game 4. Lowe believes Simmons would initially come off the bench, and his addition would help Brooklyn’s defense, rebounding, and transition offense. A frontcourt featuring Simmons and Kevin Durant would provide more versatility than the team currently has at its disposal, Lowe notes.

Knicks Notes: Quickley, Fournier, L. Rose, Toppin, Randle

The Knicks have spent years searching for a reliable point guard, but their offseason plans may change if they decide Immanuel Quickley can handle the job, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Quickley posted two triple-doubles in his last three games and improved his play-making as the season wore on. He also overcame an early-season shooting slump and connected at 39.4% on three-pointers over his last 29 games.

“I just control what I can control, man, and that’s working hard, getting better every day,’’ Quickley said after Sunday’s season finale. “If that’s starting, that’s coming off the bench, it is what it is.’’

The Knicks will certainly explore the market for a point guard this summer if they’re not ready to make Quickley the full-time starter. The position was a major disappointment this season with Kemba Walker playing through injuries before leaving the team in February and Derrick Rose never returning after undergoing ankle surgery in December.

New York reportedly has interest in impending free agent Jalen Brunson, but a source tells Berman that the Mavericks will make a strong effort to keep him, especially if they put together a long playoff run.

There’s more from New York:

  • Evan Fournier set a franchise record for most three-pointers in a season, but his first year in New York didn’t turn out the way he hoped, Berman states in a separate story. Fournier was signed in free agency to provide much-needed long-distance shooting for a contending team, but the Knicks unraveled in too many other areas. Berman suggests the front office may explore trade options involving Fournier this summer, but he prefers to return next season and hopes the core of the team will be kept intact. “I’ve said we had the right pieces and we have everything to be successful and I believe that,” Fournier said. “We have to find ourselves. So, when you go through a whole season with guys and coaching staff, you get attached to them and you want to have success with them. You go through tough moments, so I’m not hoping anything changes, to be honest.”
  • Two talented draft classes and a parcel of future assets are the best things Leon Rose has to show since taking over as team president, Berman adds in another piece. The Knicks currently have nine players age 24 or younger, and they own 13 picks in the next three drafts.
  • Steve Popper of Newsday examines whether the late-season surge by Obi Toppin will make Julius Randle expendable. Randle is coming off a down season and feuded with both fans and the media, but Popper cautions that the Knicks would be selling low if they move him this offseason, especially with his four-year, $106MM extension about to kick in.

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Randle, Robinson, Fournier

In a rare media appearance, Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose spoke to MSG Network’s Mike Breen over the weekend about the state of the franchise, head coach Tom Thibodeau, and forward Julius Randle, among other topics. Rose acknowledged it was a “disappointing” season in New York, but expressed confidence that the team’s long-term plan is on track.

“Absolutely. We have to stick to the plan,” he said, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “We have to build one block at a time, be patient. We feel like we’re set up, you know, really well as far as like, we’ve got 13 draft picks over the next three drafts, four first-round picks. With regard to opportunities that may come along, we’re very flexible. We want to show patience, we want to show prudence in making those decisions and continuing to develop what we have.”

Rose said the Knicks fell short of their goal of being a playoff team, but added that he saw some positive signs from the club during the season’s home stretch. Following a seven-game losing streak that began in February and ended in March, New York went 12-7 the rest of the way and got solid production from a handful of young players.

Jericho (Sims) going against starting centers, the 58th pick in the draft,” Rose said, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Obi (Toppin), the last week or so has just taken it to another level, scoring a career-high the last game. Quentin (Grimes), who had already established himself in the rotation. (Miles McBride) getting minutes and doing a good job with it. (Immanuel Quickley) playing point guard and showing some signs.

“And RJ (Barrett) is only 21 years old. We have nine players on our team who are 24 years old or younger and Julius is only 27, so … we look at that like development is key. And just in this part of the season, we’ve seen some good development and just need to work and continue on and build on that.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Rose said that Randle “loves it here in New York (and) wants to be in New York,” according to Begley. The Knicks’ president also praised the job Thibodeau did in a challenging season. “I mean, again, he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA,” Rose said, per Popper. “So obviously none of us are happy with the results this year. But he’s a guy who prepares our team better than anybody. I feel that he’s done a good job under the circumstances.”
  • According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Rose was “dead-set” against letting Thibodeau go during the season when at least two members of the front office recommended making a coaching change. Berman also hears from a source that some Knicks executives and players didn’t love the fact that the coaching staff didn’t hold Randle more accountable for his “miscues” throughout the season.
  • Randle and Toppin have talked about the possibility of playing together in small-ball lineups next season, as Peter Botte of The New York Post relays. “There are so many different things we can do when we’re both on the court,” Toppin said. “But we’ve definitely talked about it and hopefully we’re both back here next year and we can see that. I feel like we can definitely do some damage in the league if we’re on the court together.”
  • Although he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, Mitchell Robinson remains eligible to sign an extension with the Knicks up until June 30 and Rose hasn’t ruled out that possibility, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. “With Mitchell, there has been ongoing discussions throughout the year with his agent,” Rose told Breen. “And those discussions will continue, will continue for the remainder of the time until free agency.” The Knicks are limited to offering Robinson about $55.6MM over four years on an extension — they could go higher in free agency.
  • Knicks swingman Evan Fournier intends to represent France in this September’s EuroBasket tournament, tweets Katz.

Injury Updates: LeBron, LaVine, Murray, Powell, Knicks, More

Facing a must-win game in Phoenix on Tuesday and looking to keep their play-in hopes alive, the Lakers will once again be without star forward LeBron James, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. James, who continues to deal with a left ankle sprain, has been ruled out for a second consecutive game and will now have missed three of the last four.

If the Lakers lose to the Suns and the Spurs win in Denver, L.A. would be officially eliminated from play-in contention by the end of the night.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Bulls guard Zach LaVine (knee) will likely miss Tuesday’s game vs. Milwaukee, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). LaVine’s left knee has been an issue for much of the season, though he has been able to play through the discomfort for the most part — this would only be the second game he has missed since the All-Star break.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (ACL) has “really ramped up” his activity in the last week, Wojnarowski said on NBA Countdown on Sunday (video link). While Wojnarowski describes Murray as “aggressive” in his efforts to get back on the court, he cautions that the guard is still experiencing some soreness at times in his surgically-repaired left knee.
  • Norman Powell (foot) will be a full participant in Tuesday’s practice for the Clippers, according to head coach Tyronn Lue, who noted that the team isn’t playing five-on-five today. Lue is hopeful that Powell will be able to return within the next several days, tweets Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group.
  • Asked today about whether Julius Randle (quad) or Derrick Rose (ankle) will play again this season, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau responded, “I don’t see it happening” (Twitter link via Fred Katz of The Athletic).
  • Mavericks guards Sterling Brown and Trey Burke are out of the COVID-19 protocols and will be available on Wednesday vs. Detroit, per head coach Jason Kidd (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News).
  • Out since March 14 due to a high ankle sprain, Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels has been upgraded to questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Washington (Twitter link). I think he’s had a really good week, good evaluation,” head coach Chris Finch said (Twitter link via Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic). “Just not sure if he’s ready to play in the game tonight, but try to push him today in our ‘stay in shape league‘ and see how everything goes.”

New York Notes: Durant, Hunt, Tanking, Knicks Staff

The Nets had all kinds of issues this season — Kyrie Irving‘s refusal to get vaccinated, James Harden‘s desire to be traded to Philadelphia, Joe Harris‘ injury — but Kevin Durant believes his knee injury was the biggest reason they nosedived in the standings.

“To be honest, I feel like our season was derailed by my injury,” Durant said to ESPN’s Nick Friedell and other media members. “So, I’m not looking at it like we’re just not a good basketball team. It’s like there wasn’t a lot of continuity with me and Kyrie out of the lineup, that’s just what it is. When we’re all on the floor together, I like what we got.”

The Nets will have to fight their way out of the play-in tournament but Durant isn’t worried about the extra challenges ahead.

“I don’t care who we play. I don’t care that we’re in the play-in. Just tip the ball up, see what happens,” he said. “That’s all you can control. It’s too stressful thinking about we’re trying to dodge a team, lining up, just play the game. We’ll see what happens.”

We have more on the New York teams:

  • With Julius Randle shut down for the rest of the season, power forward Feron Hunt could see some action in the remaining Knicks games, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Hunt was signed last month to a two-way contract. In seven games with the G League’s Westchester Knicks, Hunt averaged 16.9 PPG. “We like who he is, so I want to get a chance to see him as well,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.
  • The Knicks have won five of their last seven games, which won’t help their chances of winning the draft lottery. RJ Barrett would rather finish the season on a high note than go into tank mode, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. “This helps build momentum, trying to finish out the season strong and carry that momentum into next year,” Barrett said. “Every game is important for us as a team for guys to develop and see who we are and who we’re going to be.”
  • When the Knicks hire a replacement for assistant coach Kenny Payne, it will signal whether Thibodeau has regained autonomy over his staff, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News opines. As a condition of getting hired, Thibodeau agreed to take on Payne, Mike Woodson and Johnnie Bryant as his top assistants. One of Thibodeau’s hand-picked assistants, Darren Erman, moved to the front of the bench when Payne left to coach Louisville. If the Knicks add another assistant not associated with Thibodeau, it will signal that team executive William Wesley is once again exerting his influence.

New York Notes: Dragic, Brown, Porter Jr., Randle

Nets guard Goran Dragic has entered the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the team tweets. Dragic has been a rotation piece since signing with the Nets as a free agent, averaging 7.3 PPG and 4.8 APG in 25.5 MPG through 16 games.

Bruce Brown has a non-COVID illness and will also miss Saturday’s contest against the Hawks.

We have more on the New York teams:

Injury Notes: Randle, Bucks, Pistons, Jazz, Simmons

Knicks forward Julius Randle, still dealing with a quad injury, has been ruled out for Saturday’s game against Cleveland, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic, who tweets that the team is considering Randle day-to-day. For the time being, there are no plans to shut down Randle for the rest of the season, Katz adds. He missed three games with the same injury last week.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • The Bucks will be without several key players on Friday vs. the Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back set. According to the team (via Twitter), Giannis Antetokounmpo (right knee soreness), Jrue Holiday (left ankle sprain), Khris Middleton (left wrist soreness), and Brook Lopez (return to competition reconditioning) are among the players who will be inactive.
  • Cory Joseph (left lumbar spine strain), Marvin Bagley III (left hip strain), and Kelly Olynyk (rest) won’t play for the Pistons on Friday against Oklahoma City, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic. The two teams are neck-and-neck in the lottery standings, so neither front office will be particularly motivated to win the game.
  • The Jazz got some reinforcements on Thursday when Bojan Bogdanovic returned from a nine-game absence and Danuel House played after missing eight consecutive games, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Both forwards had positive plus-minus ratings in a win over the Lakers that snapped Utah’s five-game losing streak.
  • Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (video link) provided another minor update on Ben Simmons, reporting that the Nets guard has resumed “light” on-court workouts and still hopes to return in time for the playoffs. Charania’s colleague at The Athletic, Joe Vardon, reported earlier today that Simmons is unlikely to be ready for the start of the playoffs.

Julius Randle Denies Asking To Be Traded

Speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s game, Knicks forward Julius Randle denied rumors that he’s pushing for a trade, tweets Steve Popper of Newsday.

“Yeah, that’s not true, bro,” Randle said. “That’s just not true. Simple as that, it’s not true at all. If it didn’t come from me it ain’t true.”

Randle was booed by the Madison Square Garden crowd during pre-game introductions, Popper writes in a full game story, but he also heard a few cheers after making his first three shots on the way to a 21-point, seven-assist and five-rebound night.

The trade demand rumors emerged as a result of Randle’s body language while scoring just five points in Monday’s game and then leaving the court immediately afterward rather than celebrating with his teammates. Randle didn’t talk with the media after that game, and a New York radio station passed along an unconfirmed report that he asked the front office for a trade that night.

Coach Tom Thibodeau dismissed the rumors before Wednesday’s contest, asking reporters, “Are you serious?” and saying, “Let’s be real.”

When asked if he thinks Randle wants to stay in New York, Thibodeau offered an indirect reply, saying, “Yeah, so as a coach, you coach the players that you have. And you love them all. And I do. If you play for me, I love you. It’s really that simple. The challenge for us is to bring the best out of each other.”

Randle provided a more firm denial following the game, stating several times that he wants his long-term future to be in New York, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). When asked about the extra attention that comes with playing in a big market, Randle replied, “I’m built for it.”

Randle said the toughest part of being booed in his home arena is the effect it has on his family, particularly his five-year-old son, per Fred Katz of The Athletic. But otherwise, he’s not bothered by the fan reaction and won’t let it drive him out of New York.

“My goal and what I work hard for is to make the city proud, to make the fans proud,” he said. “I play for my teammates, I play for my family. It’s as simple as that, bro. Nothing more than that. From the inside looking out, it is what it is. You know? I understand that a lot of times you’ve got to just let your game do the talking and go from there. Like I said, I love the city. My family loves it here. I’m a Knick. That’s what I love. I love being a Knick.”

Atlantic Notes: Randle, Quickley, Curry, Brooks, Celtics

Some people around the league have likened Julius Randle‘s recent behavior and body language to the way James Harden was acting during his final weeks in Brooklyn, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Harden’s discontent ultimately led to a trade request, which the Nets granted, and multiple sources have speculated the Knicks could take a similar path with Randle this offseason, possibly in a deal for a center, says Berman.

One person connected to the Knicks recently described Randle’s behavior this season as “incorrigible,” according to Berman, who hears from a source that the veteran forward sometimes dresses by himself in another area of the locker room. Sources believe a lack of leadership from Randle has hurt the team this season, Berman adds.

Randle also lost a strong ally in the organization this month when assistant coach Kenny Payne left the Knicks to take a job as Louisville’s head coach, as Berman observes.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • After a slow start this season, Immanuel Quickley is showing the potential to be a solid point guard at the NBA level, Berman writes in a separate New York Post story. “I come in with an open mindset to get better,” the Knicks guard said. “Guys around me are helping me and so are the coaches. It’s a great system we got.”
  • Nets guard Seth Curry expects to have to play through left ankle pain for the rest of the season, but doesn’t believe he’ll need to undergo surgery to address the issue in the offseason, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “(The ankle) just (needs) more of an extended amount of rest period. Probably a month or so just rest,” Curry said. “But obviously not going to get that now.”
  • Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca takes a look at how Armoni Brooks earned a two-year contract from the Raptors and the role he has taken on since arriving in Toronto. “I’m excited because I know the team has a really good development staff,” Brooks said. “I’m excited to be with the team, work out and get better everyday, just embrace the grind. Hopefully we get some good results and we can keep this going.”
  • Breaking down some film, Jared Weiss of The Athletic explores how the Celtics‘ defense can survive and adapt in the coming weeks without injured big man Robert Williams available.