Julius Randle

Atlantic Notes: Randle, Reddish, Young, Simmons

Knicks power forward Julius Randle has returned to an All-Star level of play following a down year during the 2021/22 season. Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News details how the 6’9″ big man adjusted his approach to the game to maximize his abilities yet again.

Randle recently credited a summer 2022 conversation with New York assistant coach Johnnie Bryant, who gave Randle a reality check about his attitude last season.

“He was talking about the year before and said something like, ‘If you were your teammates and saw you acting the way you did sometimes, with body language, showing frustration, would you want to be your teammate?’” Randle recalled. “And I said, ‘No.’ So I had to look myself in the mirror and take accountability and get better and learn from it.”

“He came and saw me and it was more like big brother, little brother, holding me accountable, talking to me, getting my mind right, more than anything,” Randle explained. “He came to me and had an honest conversation. And it helped me put my ego and my pride to the side. And try to adjust my game and look at myself in the mirror and do what’s best for the team.” 

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Though it seems likely the Knicks will find a new home for 2018 lottery pick Cam Reddish, who has been out of New York’s rotation for two months, Steve Popper of Newsday wonders if the club will make additional trades by Thursday’s trade deadline.
  • Raptors forward Thaddeus Young has been a massive tone-setter for Toronto’s younger players, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who opines that Young’s influence will resonate beyond his time with the club. “Big time vet,” Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa said of the 34-year-old. “Been in the league a long time, and we’re just trying to learn from him as much as we can.”
  • Nets point forward Ben Simmons had imaging done on his troublesome knee, but head coach Jacque Vaughn indicates that an MRI revealed nothing particularly worrisome long-term in the ligament, per Nick Friedell of ESPN (Twitter link). Simmons has been unavailable since January 26 as a result of knee soreness.

2023 NBA All-Star Reserves Announced

The league has announced its 2023 All-Star reserves during a pregame broadcast on TNT, as voted on by NBA head coaches. As usual, the list of 14 selections featured some interesting surprises.

For the Eastern Conference, coaches voted in Sixers center Joel Embiid (the reigning Player of the Month in the East), Heat center Bam Adebayo, Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan, Celtics wing Jaylen Brown, Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton, and Knicks forward Julius Randle.

Holiday, who is making his second overall All-star appearance this year, last earned an All-Star nod a decade ago while playing for Philadelphia.

Randle will receive a $1.2MM salary bonus as a result of being named an All-Star this season, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Marks adds (via Twitter) that Holiday will get a $324K bonus. And as long as he appears in at least 65 contests this year, Brown will earn a $1.55MM bonus after having qualified for the All-Star game, Marks tweets.

Among the most notable omissions in the East were a handful of point guards: the Knicks’ Jalen Brunson, the Hawks’ Trae Young, the Cavaliers’ Darius Garland, and the Sixers’ James Harden. Miami swingman Jimmy Butler also missed out. Young, Harden and Butler all made the cut last season.

In the Western Conference, Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, Kings center Domantas Sabonis, Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Clippers forward Paul George, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, and Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. were selected as reserves.

Being named to the All-Star team again this year will earn Sabonis a $1.3MM bonus, per Marks (Twitter link).

Lakers center Anthony Davis, Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Suns guard Devin Booker, and Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon were among the Western Conference snubs.

Gilgeous-Alexander, Markkanen and Jackson are the lone first-time All-Stars among these 14 picks.

All-Star weekend tips off on February 17 in Salt Lake City. Los Angeles power forward LeBron James and Milwaukee power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the captains of their respective conferences, will draft their teams ahead of the 2023 All-Star Game on Sunday, February 19.

And-Ones: Napier, All-Star Bonuses, Trade Proposals, Biggest Needs

Former NBA guard Shabazz Napier has signed with Olimpia Milano for the remainder of the season, according to a team press release. Coach Ettore Messina said Napier will be thrown into the fray immediately against Baskonia, Allesandro Maggi of Sportando relays.

“Shabazz Napier had just one team practice, but we will use him, hoping for some minutes in a position where we need them badly,” he said.

Napier last appeared in the NBA during the 2019/20 season, when he played a combined 56 games for Minnesota and Washington.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Several NBA players could cash in if they’re selected as All-Star reserves, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. Among that group, the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown will earn a $1.5MM bonus if he’s chosen and also appears in 65 regular season games (he has missed six games so far). The Bucks’ Jrue Holiday will collect $324K if he’s chosen, while the Kings’ Domantas Sabonis will receive $1.3MM if he’s selected. The Knicks’ Julius Randle will get an additional $1.2MM if he gets the nod.
  • What are some of the bold moves that playoff contenders could make to improve their chances of success? The Ringer’s Michael Pina explores potential trades that could make the Suns, Clippers, Thunder, Lakers and Pelicans better.
  • The Bulls and Hawks need 3-point shooting.  The Nuggets need defensive help and the Warriors require a stretch wing. The Athletic’s staff runs down the biggest need for every team as the trade deadline approaches.

New York Notes: Warren, Nets, A. Williams, Robinson, Knicks

With Kevin Durant sidelined due to a knee injury, Nets forward T.J. Warren feels as if he’s capable of stepping up and taking on a bigger role. However, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, Warren is still on a minutes limit after missing nearly two years of action, and while he recognizes it’s in his best interest, he can’t help but be frustrated by it.

“Yeah, it’s super-frustrating, trust me,” Warren said. “It’s trying to find a balance (between) being out two years but also knowing that I feel like I can carry the load a little bit during those long stretches.

“But just got to put my trust and training staff’s hands. … They’ve been doing a great job with me, got me back to this point, and just got to see the bigger picture, end of the season, playoffs, playing at my best, hopefully off the minute restriction.”

Warren has averaged 20.7 minutes per game in 19 appearances since making his season debut. In the Nets’ last three games with Durant unavailable, he has averaged 16.0 points in 24.9 minutes per night.

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

  • Despite losing all three of their games since Durant’s injury, the Nets remain upbeat and confident that they’ll be able to right the ship and avoid a repeat of last season’s 5-16 slide without KD, Lewis writes in another New York Post story. “Last year it was… it was kind of a toxic environment,” Nic Claxton said. “We didn’t know if everybody wanted to be here at the time. This year there’s no divide between everybody that’s out there. We’re going to figure it out.” As Lewis notes, Claxton’s comments appear to be referencing James Harden, who asked to be traded during Durant’s absence.
  • After being waived by the Nets last week, rookie guard Alondes Williams has rejoined the Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s G League affiliate, according to Chris Milholen of NetsDaily. Williams had spent plenty of time with Long Island on his two-way contract, but is now an NBA free agent and would be free to sign with any team if he gets an offer.
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson left Wednesday’s game due to a sprained right thumb and will undergo further evaluation on Thursday to determine the severity of the injury, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post. If Robinson misses time, big man Jericho Sims will likely reclaim a rotation role for New York.
  • Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t concerned about how much court time his top players are seeing, referring to critics of his rotation as the “minutes police,” Braziller says in another story for The New York Post. “I know you guys like to create the narrative for your stories and you don’t look at it in totality,” Thibodeau said. “I don’t think we have anyone in the top 20 in minutes played.” As Braziller details, in the 15 most recent games entering Wednesday night, Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson were in the NBA’s top five in minutes played, while Quentin Grimes was 14th. However, all three players rank much lower among the full-season minutes leaders.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Knicks Rotation, VanVleet, Siakam

Kyrie Irving hasn’t been able to produce during the fourth quarter since Kevin Durant was sidelined by a knee injury, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. Against Boston on Thursday, the Nets star guard shot 3-of-10, missing all three 3-point attempts, in the last 12 minutes. Against the Thunder on Sunday, Irving had just two points on 1-for-4 shooting in the fourth quarter.

“I’m doing the best job I can. I wish I could make a few more shots within the minutes and be efficient,” Irving said of those Nets’ losses. “I know that’ll come, and I’ll continue to prepare the best way I know how and be a better example for the guys in the locker room.”

The Nets were without both stars on Tuesday. Irving missed the game against San Antonio with right calf soreness, Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Jalen Brunson, Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Immanuel Quickley have absorbed a vast majority of the minutes in Tom Thibodeau’s latest Knicks rotation, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic. The Knicks could use another source of offense if they continue with that rotation, which means a trade to address that need is a possibility. Houston’s Eric Gordon or a wing player could be the target.
  • With Fred VanVleet likely to decline his player option in order to become a free agent this summer, the Raptors are in a tricky situation regarding their point guard, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes. A hot streak by VanVleet could help them move him for a suitable package before the deadline. If the Raptors decide not to trade him, they had better be prepared to make a serious long-term commitment this summer, despite his off year.
  • If the Raptors can get an offer for Pascal Siakam like Utah did for Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, they should strongly consider it, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype opines. Toronto could seek multiple unprotected first-round picks, prospects, and good veterans on team-friendly deals for Siakam. Teams like Dallas, Phoenix, and Atlanta would be great fits for Siakam and could all make strong offers for him, Gozlan adds. That would facilitate a reshaping of their core group without an extended rebuild.

New York Notes: Randle, Knicks Defense, Thibodeau, Simmons

Julius Randle had a monster game against the depleted Pistons frontcourt on Sunday, posting numbers that a Knicks player hadn’t reached since the Patrick Ewing era, Peter Botte of the New York Post notes.

Randle racked up a season-high 42 points and 15 rebounds in the 117-104 victory, the first 40-15 game by a New York player since Ewing accomplished the feat in 1996.

“Man, he’s a legend. Respect to him,” Randle said. “Just lets you know the kind of work that he put in when he wore his jersey. I’m honored and blessed to be able to do something that he did.”

Randle is averaging 28.6 points and 13.0 rebounds in 20 games since Dec. 7.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • Randle said that coach Tom Thibodeau implored his team to perk up defensively after a five-game losing streak last month, Botte writes. “I think really since the Houston game [on Dec. 31], maybe, Coach, he got on us to really lock in defensively,” Randle said. “And I took it personally, because I felt like I wasn’t necessarily playing my best defense for those couple of games, whatever it was.” Entering Sunday’s contest, the Knicks had the third-best defensive rating since Dec. 31.
  • Thibodeau has often been criticized in past seasons for rely too much on veteran players and playing them too many minutes. That’s the not the case this season, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News notes in a subscriber-only story. Bondy points out that there are no Knicks among the top 20 in minutes per game this season and the average age of the rotation players is under 24.
  • Ben Simmons sat out the Nets’ game against Oklahoma City on Sunday due to back soreness, Ian Begley of SNY TV tweets. Simmons, who has appeared in 31 of the team’s 42 games this season, played 26 scoreless minutes against Boston on Thursday but contributed 13 assists and nine rebounds.

Knicks Notes: Toppin, Barrett, Robinson, Hartenstein, Sims, Brunson, Thibodeau

Knicks forward Obi Toppin could make his long-awaited return to action on Monday night. He went through a full practice on Sunday and should be available to play against the Bucks, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets.

Toppin, who has not played since Dec. 7 due to a right leg injury, was medically cleared to return earlier this week, but needed more practice reps before the Knicks were comfortable reinserting him into the rotation.

RJ Barrett is listed as doubtful due to a lacerated right index finger, the team tweets.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Mitchell Robinson grabbed 18 rebounds in 35 minutes, including eight on the offensive end, against Toronto on Friday. Robinson has noticed teams are trying to block him out with multiple players on the offensive glass and takes pride in that fact, Bondy writes. “I’m a dangerous man,” Robinson said. “You got to put three guys on me to keep me off the glass. That says a lot. I’m really becoming something.”
  • With Toppin ready to reclaim his spot as the backup power forward, Isaiah Hartenstein or Jericho Sims will be dropped from the rotation, Bondy adds in the same story. “Whatever we decide to do, that’s part of sacrificing for the team and putting the team first,”  coach Tom Thibodeau said.
  • The Knicks have won four straight and Jalen Brunson has emerged as the team’s closer, according to Bondy. Brunson had 10 points in the final six minutes against Toronto. “What I try and do is try and relax and stay poised in those moments,” Brunson said. “Everyone talks about pressure and all that stuff, but just got to trust your mechanics, trust everything you do.”
  • Thibodeau has notched 100 coaching victories since being hired by the Knicks, Steve Popper of Newsday notes. “I’m glad to be a part of all 100. Thibs has come in here and created a great culture for all of us,” Julius Randle said. “He’s been amazing. The support, holding us accountable, the belief for us to win every night. I’m happy for him. We’ve got to get him another hundred.”

Knicks Notes: Brunson, Quickley, McBride, Grimes, Randle, Toppin

Knicks point man Jalen Brunson has shown thus far that he’s worth the huge free agent contract and the subsequent tampering punishment administered by the league, Ian O’Connor of the New York Post opines.

Brunson has solidified a long-time trouble spot for the Knicks, expertly guiding the team in the offensive zone. That more than makes up for his defensive shortcomings and lack of athleticism, O’Connor writes. It also far outweighs the 2025 second rounder they’ll have to forfeit. The Knicks stole away Brunson from Dallas with a four-year, $104MM deal.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Brunson missed three games last week and RJ Barrett remains sidelined with a lacerated right index finger. The silver lining is that Immanuel Quickley, Miles McBride and Quentin Grimes have received extensive playing time in their absences, Peter Botte of the New York Post writes. That trio started in a 20-point victory over Houston on Saturday, with Quickley and Grimes combining for 46 points and nine assists.
  • Last season, Julius Randle had a combative relationship with the home crowd as he struggled to regain his All-Star form from 2020/21. He’s now the toast of Knicks fans once again and challenging for another All-Star spot, averaging 32.4 points and 12.9 rebounds in his last seven games, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News notes. “You work hard to put yourself in a position to do that. So it would be amazing [to get selected to the All-Star team]. I love it,” Randle said.
  • Obi Toppin has been upgraded to doubtful for Wednesday’s home game against the Spurs, the team’s PR department tweets. Toppin hasn’t played since suffering a non-displaced fracture in his right fibula on Dec. 7.

Knicks Notes: Quickley, Toppin, Randle, Dolan

While Evan Fournier and Cam Reddish are considered the most available trade candidates in New York, one league executive who spoke to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com pointed to another Knicks player who would bring back a far greater return if the team were willing to move him.

“The one guy who is really their trade asset is the one guy they’d like to keep, and that’s (Immanuel) Quickley,” the exec said. “Great kid. But he sees himself as a starting point guard, and the Knicks see him as a combo guard. Thibs (head coach Tom Thibodeau) doesn’t like to play young guys, but he’s embraced Quickley.

“The problem is Quickley sees what Tyrese Maxey is doing 80 miles south of there and he thinks, ‘Hey, I’m every bit as good as Tyrese. The only difference is he’s had opportunity and I haven’t.’ So he’s worried that the Knicks will never commit to letting him do what he wants to do. But he would bring back some value if they ever decided to trade him.”

It’s probably safe to take the anonymous executive’s commentary on Quickley with a grain of salt, since there’s no reason to think he’d have any inside insight on the 23-year-old’s thinking. Still, it’s worth noting that Quickley has posted some of the best numbers of his career in the Knicks’ last two games with Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett unavailable, racking up 15 assists on Tuesday and 36 points on Thursday.

“He’s not going to get those opportunities when they’re whole,” the exec added.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • An Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com believes the Knicks have spoken to the Pacers about a possible Obi Toppin trade. “There has been some talk between the Pacers and Knicks about Obi,” the exec said. “He fits in Indiana, especially if they keep (Myles) Turner. Obi is a rim-runner, he has some toughness, he has athleticism. He needs minutes and a team that is rebuilding with young talent like Indy is a really good match.”
  • A productive December has increased Julius Randle‘s season-long averages to 23.8 PPG, 9.7 RPG, and 3.7 APG, but he’s not thinking about the possibility of earning a second All-Star nod, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. “I’m just trying to focus on the team, helping us get wins, day by day, how I can improve as a player and a leader, and how we can improve as a team,” Randle said. “Those things, if they happen, whatever it is, it’s great. But I’m more focused on the team.”
  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News identifies five moments that defined a disappointing 2022 for the Knicks.
  • Writing for his Substack (subscription required), Ethan Strauss takes a closer look at troubling reports and stories about Madison Square Garden security using facial recognition technology to turn away fans based on James Dolan‘s personal vendettas. Botte passes along some of the highlights of Strauss’ story in an article for The New York Post.

Atlantic Notes: Toppin, Randle, Powell, Mazzulla

Knicks forward Obi Toppin is still in the early stages of rehab from his right leg injury, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

Toppin, who has not played since Dec. 7, said his workouts are limited to spot-up shooting, pool work and upper-body weightlifting. The Knicks’ primary backup to Julius Randle will need “couple more reevaluations” before returning from the fractured bone in his leg.

“Not really any pain, but I could not feel pain and it could still be messed up,” Toppin said. “So it’s all up to [the Knicks’ medical staff]. Whenever they feel I should be back, that’s when I’ll come back.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Randle caused a stir, particularly among Knicks fans, when he sat in the front row of Mavericks-Jazz playoff game last spring. Randle was accompanied by Knicks executives William Wesley and Alan Houston, but Randle insists they weren’t there to be seen by potential acquisitions Jalen Brunson and Donovan Mitchell. Randle, who lives in the Dallas area, claimed Tuesday it was just a coincidence, Bondy writes. “I didn’t even know [Wesley and Houston] were in town,” he said. “Just so happened to happen like that.”
  • Former Raptors champion and current Clippers forward Norman Powell returned to Toronto on Tuesday for the first time since Feb. 28, 2020, Law Murray of The Athletic tweets. The Raptors were on a road trip when the pandemic hit and then played in the Orlando bubble before spending the next season in Tampa, with Powell traded to Portland midway through that year. He was inactive for the Trail Blazers’ game in Toronto last season and was dealt to the Clippers after Los Angeles had already played there.
  • The Celtics still don’t plan to remove the interim tag from Joe Mazzulla before the end of the season, according to Adam Himmelbach of the Boston Globe. Ime Udoka‘s suspension is due to end in June. Mazzulla, who missed Tuesday’s game due to eye irritation, according to Jared Weiss (Twitter link), may have been given some assurances about his future privately by the front office. It’s expected that Mazzulla will be retained as the head coach after the season.