The Knicks have just two players with guaranteed salaries above $7 million next season – Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett.
At quick glance, it’s a fine tandem. The 25-year-old Randle is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. The No. 3 pick in the most recent NBA draft, Barrett is averaging 14 points, five rebounds and three assists per game.
But neither has met hopes individually this season.
Collectively, the issues could be even worse.
Marc Berman of the New York Post:
Nevertheless, some Knicks, including rookie RJ Barrett, were frustrated by Randle’s penchant for not distributing the ball quickly enough and overdribbling, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
“A lot of players felt like that with the exception of Elfrid Payton,’’ one NBA source told The Post.
Of course, Barrett was frustrated by an inefficient shooter who dominates the ball and commits too many turnovers. It’s exponentially more difficult to have two players than one like that, and Barrett was already filling that role. Imagine how teammates who must play with both feel.
Apparently except Elfrid Payton? He played with Randle on the Pelicans last season. Randle shot 34% on 3-pointers with New Orleans (27% the rest of his career, including 28% this year), which went a long way toward making Randle more suitable within a team offense. So, Payton has that experience.
Randle has talent, and that’s why he puts up numbers. His shot creation helps him raise a team’s floor. But – also considering his defensive shortcomings – it’s tough to see him fitting as a starter on a winning team.
Barrett is just a rookie, so there’s more hope he develops a style that fits better with other good players. Of course, even if he does, for it to matter, the Knicks would have to get better players.
For now, they’ve got an expensive Randle.