Last season, the relationship between New York Knicks fans and Julius Randle took a turn for the worst. After the forward was named an All-Star, won the NBA Most Improved Player award, and signed a four-year extension, both he and Knicks fans came crashing back to reality in 2021-22.
New York finished the season out of reach of the play-in tournament with a 37-45 record, but before the year came to a close, fans were calling for Randle to be traded. A year after showering cheers down on Randle, those same fans resorted to booing the forward.
It’s been five months since the Knicks closed out the season with a win over the Toronto Raptors, which was highlighted by Obi Toppin’s career-high 42 points. Toppin’s performance to close out the season in Randle’s absence only made fans want to see the 27-year-old leave New York even more, as Toppin spent his first two seasons in the league in Randle’s shadow.
As the 2022-23 season creeps closer, both Randle and Toppin are still on the team. Both of their names have been floating around in trade rumors, with Toppin being the one to pop up the most in Donovan Mitchell talks. The Mitchell saga has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean that the Knicks won’t make a trade before their season-opener in Memphis.
One thing’s clear, though, and it’s that Randle isn’t only preparing, but is ready to put on a show for fans at Madison Square Garden.
Julius Randle expresses his appreciation for Knicks fans on Instagram
Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but it’s certainly noteworthy considering that it was only a few months ago when Randle gave both a thumbs down and a special message to fans in response to them cheering (not booing) for him.
Randle’s replies on Instagram may not be enough for some fans to view him in a different light, but it seems as if he wants to put the past behind him. Whether fans want him around or not, there’s still three full years left on his contract before he’ll have a $29.5 million player option in 2025-26. A trade could happen anytime before then, but for now, New York is Randle’s home.
And let’s not forget that a bounce back season could be in the cards for Randle. If that ends up being the case, then the relationship between him and the fanbase will likely repair itself. But if that isn’t the case, then Randle could be on the move.
As long as he’s on the Knicks, though, fans should want to see Julius Randle at his best.