Julius Randle and Thom Thibodeau
Money, happiness, family, stability, continuing to build in New York.
But there was another reason Randle decided to commit long-term to New York. And it’s one that could be pivotal for this Knicks regime.
“Part of the reason why I took the deal was because of the culture,” Randle said on Friday. “…. We’re all a family, we enjoy being around each other and we have that trust. So even if I left money on the table, I trust that in the long run it’s going to pay off.
“I trust Leon (Rose), I trust Wes (William Wesley), I trust Scott (Perry), Thibs (Tom Thibodeau), all those guys, that they’re going to give us the best possible chance and put us in the best position now and in the future to bring a championship to the Knicks.
“That’s what it’s about. I don’t know if I can make that commitment anywhere else. It really speaks to the culture we have here, me being able to trust the guys that are helping us and working to get us the best possible team. Anybody that comes in, that’s here, they have to fit into that culture. And Wes and Leon and those guys have done a great job of building that atmosphere for us.”
Culture is a buzz word that you hear often from coaches and executives. Most of the time when you heard it from a Knick coach or exec over the past two decades, it turned out to be an empty promise.
But thanks in part to Randle, the Knicks laid the foundation for a winning culture last season by winning 41 games and earning the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. All of the talk about culture was backed by actual results.
And if Randle, the Knicks’ best player, believes in the team’s culture and trusts in the Knicks’ executives and coaches, that should only benefit the organization long-term.
Having you’re best player on the same page with your coach and front office is pivotal to success in the NBA. Sure, teams can win with unhappy star players. But for a team like the Knicks – a team in the early stages of trying to build a sustainable winner – having your best player on the same page as coaches and management is a huge plus.
If you’re a Knick fan, you know how things can go sideways when the player isn’t in sync with coaches/management. You saw it with Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson; you saw it with Kristaps Porzingis and Steve Mills.
So Randle’s words on Friday should be comforting for a fan base that is starved for a winner.
You can dismiss it as empty talk. But Randle backed those words by signing an extension that gives the Knicks at least $40 million in flexibility over the life of the deal. That act should help the Knicks build out the roster.
Maybe more importantly, it should help foster the kind of winning culture that New York has tried – and failed – to establish for most of the last 20 years.