Julius Randle's All-Star, All-NBA 2020-21 season led to a fat new contract and renewed hope for the New York Knicks. That hope is slowly being ground into dust as Randle's follow-up season has not been nearly as good. In fact, it's been very bad. Randle is averaging six fewer points per game in the 2021-22 campaign than he did last year on significantly worse efficiency, especially from three-point land, where he's hitting only 30 percent of his attempts after sinking 41 percent one year ago.
To make matters worse, Randle just looks bad out there. He seems disinterested in playing basketball more often than not, exhibiting the kind of lackadaisical attitude that puts a huge target on his back in a market like New York City. The 24-29 Knicks have problems that go beyond Randle, but he's been the poster boy for their struggles this season for good reason.
The situation somehow got lower over the weekend, when New York blew a 15-point lead to the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena and ended up losing by seven in overtime. Randle actually had one of his better games, scoring 32 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor and recording 16 rebounds for a double-double, but still had a plus-minus of -9 in his 41 minutes. At some point, frustration boiled over and Randle got into an altercation with a Knicks assistant, who was later identified as video coordinator Scott King.
It is natural for frustration to boil over in the midst of a blowing a big lead and it is far from the first time an athlete has gotten into a heated discussion with a coach during a game. But given how Randle's year has gone, it reflects poorly on the forward.
He has played better over the team's recent stretch of games, but this version of the Knicks starts and ends with Randle. They need him to be a leader on the court. Between his overall attitude and the above display, there's clearly room for improvement.