Once it became clear the New York Knicks would not be luring any of the most prized free agents to Madison Square Garden over the offseason, they switched to Plan B: a group of less-heralded players headlined by Julius Randle.
Randle, a 24-year-old power forward who averaged 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists for the New Orleans Pelicans last season, called the decision to come to New York a "no brainer" at Monday’s Knicks Media Day at the team’s training facility in Greenburgh, New York.
“For me, it was a pretty easy decision. Once I knew it was an option for me to be able to come here and play for the Knicks, it was a no brainer for me," Randle said. "I think since my, like, second year in the league, I think it was my first time playing at MSG, just that feeling of playing at MSG, the excitement. I had no clue what to expect or really knew what I was walking into. That feeling has always, like, kind of stuck with me."
Once the opportunity to play for the Knicks presented itself, Randle says he didn’t hesitate. He agreed to a reported three-year, $63 million contract.
"[It was a] quick process," Randle said. "I got it done as soon as I could."
Returning point guard Dennis Smith Jr. — like Randle, a former top-10 draft pick who later came to New York — likes what his new teammate brings to the Knicks on the court.
“[Randle is] an elite scorer, a big offensive threat, [possesses] a lot of toughness," Smith said. "He’s going to be a matchup nightmare."
The Knicks had entered the offseason aiming to sign some of the top free agents on the market: Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Leonard departed from the defending champion Toronto Raptors to join the Los Angeles Clippers, while Durant and Irving have teamed up with the rival Brooklyn Nets.
Instead, Randle and others such as forwards Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris and Taj Gibson and guards Elfrid Payton, Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock came to the city on short-term deals.