The New York Knicks should still extend their star despite playoff struggles.
The New York Knicks’ season ended on Wednesday night as they fell 103-89 to the Atlanta Hawks, losing the series in five games. It was certainly a disappointing conclusion, but the year as a whole should be viewed as a major success.
At the end of last season, the team had no direction, no coach, question marks over all young players, and still hadn’t adjusted to the modern game. At the end of this season, the Knicks have a defensive identity, a coach of the year finalist, a legitimate young core, and finished 3rd in the league in team three-point percentage.
Perhaps most importantly, they have a star. Julius Randle defied all expectations this season as he won the league’s Most Improved Player award (MIP). He became the first Knick to ever average at least 20/10/5 for a full season, doing so while also shooting 41% from three.
At just 26 years old, he likely still has his best basketball ahead of him.
His contract currently has a team option for just under $20 million for the following season, then he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. The logical move would be to extend him. This seemed like a forgone conclusion a few weeks ago, but the postseason has made fans a bit antsy.
The bruising forward struggled in the playoffs. His averages of 18.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game don’t look too bad but he shot just 30% from the field and averaged 4.6 turnovers per contest. The Hawks sent 2-3 defenders at him on every possession and he seemingly became overwhelmed by their game plan.
The front office shouldn’t be swayed by that 5-game sample size and still offer the extension, trusting Randle to work hard in the offseason and come back better than ever. Here’s why.