One prominent Knick who will need to adjust his game following the arrival of Derrick Rose is Julius Randle.
The potential All-Star has operated largely as a point forward during the Knicks’ 11-15 start entering Friday night’s game in Washington, posting a career high of 5.8 assists per game, in addition to his averages of 22.3 points and 10.9 rebounds over his first 26 appearances.
Rose’s acquisition from the Pistons in a trade earlier this week essentially gives the Knicks’ second team two point guards able to play on or off the ball, alongside rookie Immanuel Quickley.
Randle endured his poorest shooting game of the season (4-for-18) when he scored just 12 points in Tuesday’s two-point loss to the Heat. Only nine of his 37 minutes came with Rose on the floor at the same time, but during those stretches, Randle scored two points on free throws and shot 0-for-4 from the field.
“He’s gonna be extremely helpful,” Randle said of Rose before Friday’s game. “It gives us not just a veteran presence but a guy who can go out there and create plays, just a steadiness about him, just a confidence about him.
“So I’m extremely excited, I think he’s gonna help us win a lot of games. Obviously, he’s familiar with [coach Tom Thibodeau] and everything that’s going on, so it’ll probably be a quick adjustment for him. So when the news was announced, I was extremely excited about having him here, for sure.”
In recent weeks, the 26-year-old Randle also has stated his excitement about the prospect of being selected to the All-Star team for the first time. He clarified Friday that he is both open to participating while also being supportive of those NBA stars — such as LeBron James — who have spoken out against the advisability of the staging the showcase event, which is being planned for March 7 in Atlanta.
“Actually what I said was I understand both sides of it,” Randle said. “I understand the side of the players. From our perspective it’s been a tough season and everybody’s looking forward to that break. Everybody’s looking forward to that down time and everything with the virus that’s going on.
“So I understand that side but I also understand the business of basketball, and I understand where the NBA is coming from in wanting to put this on for our fans. … At the end of the day, everybody’s not going to be happy. It’s just the way life is. It’s how it’s been since the start of the season, with everything. There’s tough decisions to make, but regardless we’ll move as a unit and I’ll support whatever decision is made.”
Randle added that he is “extremely excited” over the announcement earlier this week that the Knicks and other professional sports teams in New York will host a limited number of fans at games beginning Feb. 23.
“Obviously safety first, we want to do what’s best for everybody and making sure everybody is safe,” Randle said. “But to have fans back in the Garden at that amount is amazing and we’re extremely excited to have our fan base come to the game and experience some of the energy we’ve been feeling. So extremely excited and thankful.”
The Knicks will return to a still-empty Garden on Saturday to face Houston, which will be without Victor Oladipo (foot), but first they looked to take advantage of the undermanned Wizards, who were without NBA scoring leader Bradley Beal (rest).
“Definitely gotta take advantage,” Randle said. “First night of a back-to-back, we want to get off to a good start. So we definitely gotta take advantage and come in with the right focus.”