Despite the New York Knicks exceeding all expectations for the 2022-23 season and winning 53 total games en route to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, it seems that a certain segment of fans was unhappy with the result in Miami on Friday.
After the Knicks lost to the Heat 96-92 and were eliminated from the playoffs, fans that were at the watch party at Madison Square Garden came outside and a small group decided to pull down a poster of Julius Randle and stomp on it.
These Knicks fans are done with Julius Randle 😳
(via @TheColtonShow__, @tripleMwassup) pic.twitter.com/ki50HLw1rX
— Ball Don’t Lie (@Balldontlie) May 13, 2023
Other fans decided to draw across Randle’s face on another poster, writing “Trade me!” with a smiley face.
The root of their frustration with Randle is almost certainly his play this postseason, including his questionable effort in Game 6.
Although Randle was battling an ankle injury, his performance during the postseason was a letdown for Knicks fans. The power forward scored just 16.6 points on 37.4% shooting from the field while grabbing 8.3 rebounds and dishing out 3.6 assists. Considering he was coming off one of his best seasons yet and was named third-team All-NBA, the 10-game playoff sample was a clear disappointment.
It was also the second time in three years that Randle has failed to step up in the playoffs, after averaging 18 points on 29.8% shooting in 2020-21.
While Randle was clearly not at 100% and should be commended for going “through hell,” as he put it, to get back onto the court, fans were frustrated after Game 6 when it seemed like Randle was mentally checked out and not hustling on the defensive end.
While some members of the media, like Richard Jefferson, are quick to use this instance to paint Knicks fans with a broad brush, it’s important to remember that, while many fans may be disappointed with Randle’s performance, it’s only a small few who took their frustrations out like this. Connecting this incident to the sentiment that major free agents won’t want to come to New York is a stretch given that both Jalen Brunson and Donovan Mitchell clearly wanted to be with the Knicks for this season.
However, while these incidents will likely be forgotten about in a few days time, the Knicks will have a big decision coming up regarding what to do with Randle. While he took his offensive game to another level this season, it’s also clear that this is Brunson’s team now and Randle doesn’t fit really well alongside Brunson and RJ Barrett.
The team has a tough challenge to figure out how to build a winner with Randle in town or whether they should trade him, even if that hurts the team in the immediate.
Regardless of how it plays out, Knicks fans are sure to have a strong opinion.