julius randle knicks
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Julius Randle and his roller-coaster season could all come down to mental health.

We need to have a chat about Julius Randle. Again.

It’s time to take a look at the New York Knicks and speculate what’s really going on with this team. Again. Time to prepare for another season without playoffs and landing a good spot in the draft lottery. Again.

And Julius Randle’s future with the Knicks isn’t on the agenda today. He signed an extension last summer and barring a blockbuster trade over the summer, the “Trade the bum!” ship has sailed. Julius Randle is a New York Knick and will almost definitely continue to be over the course of his contract.

Except this season, something hasn’t been right with Randle. Whether it’s giving the thumbs-down to a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd and then cursing them out in a postgame presser, or getting himself ejected during an otherwise strong game for both him and his Knicks, he isn’t as focused as he once was.

It’s a sensitive subject, but we need to discuss Julius Randle’s mental health and how it could be affecting his performance.


Is Julius Randle OK?

First things first, I am neither a medical nor mental health professional. My degree is in American Studies from a small D-III school known best for attracting an unusual amount of Phish fans to campus. The last thing I am here to do is formally diagnose Julius Randle with something.

But what I do know is that on-and-off for almost two decades, I have dealt with varying degrees of anxiety and depression. There are good days, bad days, and very bad days. It’s taken years of professional help, but I’ve thankfully reached a point where I can handle both if they come roaring to the front.

All this to say, maybe we should be worried about Julius Randle. Marc Berman of The New York Post spoke to an NBA source who said that Randle and his “overall psyche is of concern inside the Knicks organization.”

Continuing on, the reporter said Randle didn’t show up to training camp in amazing shape like he did in 2020-21, “has seemed angry all year,” and people are concerned. Oh, and let’s not forget his wife Kendra gave birth to their second son right before the start of the season, and we all know how stressful it is with a newborn at home regardless of circumstances.

People are concerned for Randle’s well-being, especially coach Tom Thibodeau.

“I’m concerned about everything,” he said following the Knicks’ Friday loss to the Phoenix Suns, in which Randle’s third-quarter ejection basically cost the Knicks the game later on. Would the Knicks have defeated the reigning West champs had Randle not lost his cool? Almost certainly.


What comes next?

And in the midst of it all, Julius Randle has not tipped his hand as to what’s bothering him. Save for one remark about a referee’s asinine comment, he’s kind of stuck to the script in terms of public remarks. That is, he has when the Knicks have made him available for media.

But even as he vocally supports his coach and has the occasional hot streak or breakout game, including last night’s career-best 46 points against the Sacramento Kings, we all know the truth. Randle hasn’t been himself this year and after the Phoenix escapades, in which he was lucky to escape with a fine, the truth is out there.

Julius Randle, no matter what he says publicly, clearly isn’t 100% himself.


Final thoughts

And to be fair, if Julius Randle does have some stuff going on, that’s okay. We all handle things differently, some in healthier ways than others, and that’s fine. When Randle wants us to know something, he’ll let us know.

Until then, all we can and should do is ride out the rest of this exhausting New York Knicks season. The team is 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final spot in the play-in tournament with 16 games remaining. A big run to the finish is possible, but unlikely.

Let’s hope Randle not only finishes the season strong, but with a new attitude that hopefully gets him comfortable enough to share what’s actually going on in his life.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.