December 9, 2022

Raven Tribune

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Julius Randle’s Obi Tobin problem hangs over the Knicks Office

Rated it as the most honest comment Knicks president Leon Rose made about his vision during Sunday’s interview with MSG.

Rose Support Julius Randle And His Tough Seasonbut later added, “In terms of the opportunities that might come up, we’re very flexible.”

Knicks would be “too flexible” with respect to Randle. His standing ranks as the Knicks’ biggest off-season question – along with Rose’s ability to obtain a legitimate starting point guard in either trade, recruitment or free agency.

Delayed appearance by Obi Tobin as top scorerHis three-point shooting and activity opened the eyes of coach Tom Thibodeau, who has gone so far as to compare him to his all-time favorite Taj Gibson in terms of intangibles and the bounce he brings to his teammates.

If they can get equal value, Randle’s trade would open up a starting point for Toppin next season and possibly create even stronger team morale.

These things matter to Tibodo.

Obi Tobin, Julius Randle
AFP, Charles Wenselberg

In response to Rose’s remark about Randall’s “discomfort” this season, Thibodeau replied, “Well, I don’t know if he’s comfortable, but I think the important thing is, let’s not mistake him for how talented he is. He didn’t shoot all three like he did a year ago, But he’s still 20, 10, and five years old. That’s talent. That’s a lot of talent.”

However, Thibodeau liked how the Knicks passed the ball when Randle wasn’t on the field in his last five games. Randall closed it off late with an excruciating quad.

But his ambiguous behavior has been a huge problem this season. It started with a “thumbs-down” gesture to the park crowd in early January, continued with a media boycott, and a brawl escalated in Los Angeles with a laptop carried by an assistant coach, culminating with Randle’s decision not to join his teammates. For the national anthem or pre-game lineup introduction to road games.

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It was at park fans cheering Tobin’s name when Randle was on the field as a slap to the player who, in fairness, lifted the Knicks to his first berth in the playoff in eight years before a season.

“I think we’ve had ups and downs this year, and when you’re that kind of player, he’s going to be criticized,” Tibodo said. “I’ll take criticism. This goes with the grass here. So, you deal with it, you come back, you use it as motivation. I know one thing: Julius will be in the gym all summer.”

Obi Tobin
Obi Tobin showed his improved scoring ability while Julius Randle was absent.
Jason Szenes

If the Knicks can’t trade Randle for a fair package, Thibodeau may have to explore a small ball package with Randle in the center and Toppin in front. However, Thibodeau hates it from a defensive standpoint.

There will be teams interested in the rugged Randle, whose four-year, $117 million contract extension starts next season at $23.7 million. This is not an exorbitant number at all. Randle ranks first in all opponent’s survey reports and is thrillingly navigating to the hoop when he’s in the right frame of mind.

If the Knicks don’t get draft picks and a legitimate start back, it might not be worth it — unless Randle officially asks for a deal. The Mavericks would be an interesting scenario if he engages the Knicks with Dallas in signing talks and trades with free agent point guard Galen Bronson. Randall is from Dallas and usually causes chaos when he plays in the Big D.

“We had new players, and it was difficult to develop chemistry right away,” Tibodo said. “But Julius is at his best when he’s running on the ground or playing fast or attacking the edge. When he’s done that, he’s had a number of big games. He’ll be the first to tell you that. When he does that and we splash the ball and it moves fast, we’re fine. Hopefully we’ve learned. From the all-star break.”

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Thibodeau was skeptical about Toppin’s defense and 3-point shooting. During the middle of the season, Tobin stopped looking at the basket as he took out the ball deep. He finished the season at 30.6 percent of 3, but 46 percent in his last five games when he started after Randle sat.

The Randall-Tobin mystery will enrage Rose, Randall’s ex-agent, and they’re all out of season.

Julius Randle stands on the field during the Knicks' season finale win over the Raptors.
Julius Randle stands on the field during the Knicks’ season finale win over the Raptors.
Jason Szenes

The sentry post after the Kemba Walker/Derrick Rose tandem will also turn into an unmitigated disaster. Rose’s ankle surgery was performed in December and Walker resigned in February.

Meanwhile, Rick’s father Bronson, Leon’s first client Rose as an agent, is expected to be their primary target. The draft is not well-equipped with play-making point guards. Knicks (37-45) is the 12th seed in the lottery with a 7.2% chance of jumping into the top three.

All things could be settled in the backcourt if the combo guard from Utah star Donovan Mitchell, Westchester producer, petitions for the trade. The Knicks will probably lose RJ Barrett on the stock exchange, but it could be a franchise change.

Thibodeau, late on a Sunday night, did not want to specify the needs.

“Unlike you [the media]’I must watch and research it,’ said Tibodo. “I can say I have ideas, and this is what I do. Some. But I want to make sure. I want to dig into it and make a plan for next year.”