Julius Randle sounds as if he’s eager to sign a long-term extension this offseason or if he becomes a free agent in 2022. And then another.
Appearing on “Victory the Podcast,” Randle said: “I love playing in New York. I want to retire as a New York Knick.’’
The Knicks will exercise the third-year team option on Randle at $20 million and hope to then extend his contract in August after his stellar season. But the Knicks can’t offer him more than 20 percent above the $20 million, which is less than the maximum he’d get if he waited to sign a five-year deal with the Knicks in the summer of 2022.
Randle, who became an All-Star this season, is expected to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player, Award get some top-three MVP votes and be named to one of the three All-NBA teams. Randle recently said he wanted to be in New York “long term.’’
He heard “MVP’’ chants at Staples Center during his 31-point performance versus the Lakers — something he never got in his four seasons there after being a Lakers lottery pick.
As the Knicks return to the Garden to play the Spurs on Thursday, Randle said: “It’s like a movie premiere. It’s like you’re watching a show. The energy and crowd is unreal. We’re at 10 percent capacity right now and it feels like a packed arena.’’
The Knicks return to the Garden for the final three regular-season games with 10 percent capacity (1,980) allowed. Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recommendation, the Knicks may raise the capacity to 30 percent on May 18. The Knicks are expected to oblige and allow 5,712 fans for the playoffs. A COVID-19 test or completed vaccination card still will be required.
The status of Alec Burks (knee bruise) and Immanuel Quickley (sprained ankle) are still up in the air, so the Knicks may need to rely a lot on more on previously out-of-the-rotation Frank Ntilikina.
The Frenchman had struggled in recent games before a solid performance versus the Lakers, and he would’ve been the unsung hero if they won. Ntilikina notched nine points (all on 3-pointers), two assists, two steals and zero turnovers in 23 minutes. He played 10 more minutes than Elfrid Payton.
Ntilikina was 1-for-7 the previous three games, including two hideous airballs against the Clippers.