Julius Randle insists he will not bail on his commitment to the Knicks

MILWAUKEE – It might seem hard to remember that it was just a few months ago that Julius Randle, in the wake of a season in which he’d ascended to heights that his career had only hinted at, decided to sign on to a four- year extension with the Knicks immediately, passing up the opportunity to cash in on a contract extension worth more than $ 80 million more.

The leader of a team that turned around on his play and the arrival of Tom Thibodeau as coach, Randle was all in. And since then he has seen the team struggle through a dismal season and criticism rise for the team, but more specifically for him, as he has heard the fans direct their ire his way.

But standing in the catacombs of Fiserv Forum Friday morning following the shoot around to prep for the game later with the Milwaukee Bucks, Randle insisted he would not change a thing and has no intention of bailing on his commitment to the Knicks.

“I would not change it,” Randle said. “I still want to be a part of it. I still want to see this thing through. I still want to be a part of helping trying to bring a championship to the Knicks.

“So, I’m not going to be happy and be all about it when things are good and just because it’s not necessarily going the way I want it to or the team wants it to run and hide. I’m still behind this. I’m still sticking it through. “

As Randle spoke, which has come less this season as he has made his way through a difficult stretch, RJ Barrett leaned in on him, holding a microphone and listening in a show of support. Randle’s very public dissatisfaction with criticism from the fans prompted an angry response on Jan. 6, which earned him a fine from the NBA.

And after that he retreated from the media, but also it seemed almost as if he did from the team, wandering from huddles on the court. But Randle said he remains all in.

“It’s been hard, but like my husband J. Cole says, there’s beauty in the struggle,” Randle said. “It’s a struggle. We’re trying to figure it out. But this is really where you find out what people are about. This is when you find out about the character of the guys on your team, so I’m excited about – we still got a lot of games to play, so I’m excited to see how we push forward and push past it. “

The team may figure it out, but figuring out what has gone on with Randle is equally important.

“Same thing, man,” Randle said. “I’m going to stick to my guns. I’m going to stick to who I am as a person. That’s coming in, working everyday, trying to be an infectious leader with my spirit and my energy and just try to be positive . “

Thibodeau had leaned heavily on Randle last season, serving as a leader not only with his play, but almost as an extension of the coach on the court. Never a very vocal leader, it was through his example that Thibodeau found a player who worked hard and set a tone for the rest of the team.

“Look, over the course of the season you’re going to go through a lot of things,” Thibodeau said. “There’s a lot that you have to get through, that’s why you want to stick with your routine, be mentally tough through the adversity and just keep working. The only thing you can control is what you put into each and every day. If you ‘re thinking about what happened yesterday or what’s coming down the road you’re not going to be focused on today or what we have to get done.

“Got to be focused on today, what we have to get done. He’s proven to be a good player. He’ll get back to that. Our team has to get back to that. It’s not an individual sport. You have to count on everyone working together. We need to play better. “

Randle believes they will.

“Definitely. We got the team,” he said. “We got the talent. We got the coach, support. So, we definitely can do it.”

Asked if that sentiment is consistent throughout the locker room, he said, “It is. It is. We’ve just got to take everything day by day. Understand it’s a process and understand things do not happen overnight. And as long as we’re creating and building the right habits everyday, we’ll be fine. “

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