BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
We don’t know Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose well.
He rarely talks to the media. He never addresses the fans through the Knicks website or the team’s social media accounts. For all we know, he might be a member of the CIA.
We don’t know what exactly he could be thinking while watching the Knicks disintegrate lately by losing six of their last eight games. We are going to assume he can’t be happy about the way the roster has come together. It’s been an awful mix for most of the season.
After a 116-96 victory over the woebegone Sacramento Kings on Monday night at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks are 24-27 mainly because Julius Randle, Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier can’t play together. Plus, Randle has been such a headcase that he let his struggles get to him to the point he lost his confidence altogether.
51 games should be enough for Rose and Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau to make a decision with conviction. It’s time for a shakeup with this roster. The vets need to go, and the Knicks need to be playing the kids such as Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppin, and Immanuel Quickley a lot more than they are accustomed to with limited minutes.
The Knicks will get nothing in value for Randle, Walker and Fournier. In fact, they may have a hard time getting rid of all three at once. If the Knicks can trade all or two of three, it would be an accomplishment.
Walker will be hard to trade since his knees are shot. He can’t shoot anymore, and his defense is laughable. His 0-point performance on Monday night summed up a disappointing first season with the Knicks. Fournier is such a hit-or-miss, so he may be hard to trade, especially after he signed a four-year, $78 million deal this offseason with the Knicks. Those two served as Rose’s free agent signings this season, and they both flopped, which explains why the Knicks have the record they have.
Randle could be the only one the Knicks can successfully trade. He serves a contender well by scoring, defending and doing the little things. He could do well as a role player rather than be the guy. He would be much better playing in a small market town where fans don’t live and die with the NBA games. The Knicks could acquire Russell Westbrook or spare parts for this troubled player, and it would be a success in a sense getting rid of him would be addition by subtraction.
After signing a contract extension worth $117 million last summer, he has struggled with the Knicks. He struggles to make shots when it matters in crunch time, especially in the free-throw line. His defense has been lacking. He often does not get his head in the game in a sense if he misses his shot, he lets it bother him by dwelling on it.
He has criticized the fans this season after they booed him for not bringing it every night. He actually pulled a Javier Baez by indicating thumbs down to the fans after he scored the Knicks’ 92nd point of the team’s 108-105 victory over the Celtics on Jan. 6. Just last week, he complained to security at FTX Arena after a Knicks fan expressed his displeasure about the Knicks forward’s performance, which he scored 11 points (four points in the first half) on 5-of-12 shooting that had him benched in the fourth quarter in the Knicks’ 110-96 loss to the Miami Heat.
In recent games, Randle seemed disengaged and disinterested. He played like he has checked out by just deferring to others when he has the basketball and just wandering around on defense. There was a video on Friday night that showed Randle not picking Toppin up after his teammate was knocked on the ground.
This should be a telling sign that Rose should get rid of him. The Knicks don’t need his toxic behavior to destroy the locker room. They don’t need his insecurity to affect RJ Barrett, Quickley, Grimes and Toppin.
Randle is a player that simply is not fit to play in New York. If he is so rattled by fans criticizing him, it would be counterproductive to keep him on the roster. He may be the only Knick that teams have an interest in, so it would behoove Rose to trade him as soon as possible.
Randle scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds on Monday night, so Knicks fans left him alone. But he is a bad game from getting booed again. It’s pointless to play him at home knowing fans are ready to go after him at the first sign of trouble. That’s not good for him and the Knicks, who need all the positive energy they can get at the Garden in getting a win.
Toppin should be starting over Randle simply because they need him to develop. He is not going to develop watching from the bench or from practicing. Giving him a few minutes a night is doing him and the team a disservice. At least, he will give the team energy and effort unlike Randle.
Developing Toppin should be a priority for the rest of the season, and that’s why Rose has a responsibility to trade Randle by the trade deadline, or else he failed the Knicks.
If Rose does nothing and keeps the roster intact, it’ll be a problem. This Knicks team is so unwatchable as it is. The time has come now to fumigate the losers on the team.
As a general manager of a professional sports team, the job description requires making tough decisions. This shouldn’t be so tough to trade Randle and other veterans since they are useless to the Knicks.
This season should be about creating a better tomorrow for a franchise that is likely going to have a 48-year championship drought when the season is over.
Rose did not have much to do last season since no one had expectations with the Knicks.
Now, fans want to know what Rose has in repertoire that will make the Knicks better.
They know he won’t talk at all, but they would like to see him do his job.
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