The New York Knicks opened training camp today with the obligatory Media Day. Coach Tom Thibodeau and various players were made available for questions by reporters at the South Carolina location.
As predicted, it’s been a pretty cheery affair.
The most dramatic storyline of training camp is how Evan Fournier will feel about still being on ice with the team. Unsurprisingly, Fournier continues to be a consummate pro, and (unlike that no-show James Harden) Fournier was with the team in South Carolina.
Tom Thibodeau addressed Fournier’s frustration, saying that he has “great respect for him.” He benched the Frenchman in mid-November, and the team enjoyed success after the change. “With the next group that went in, it’s hard to argue with a with a 37-22 record and a plus five net rating.”
Tom Thibodeau was asked about the discontent coming from Evan Fournier:— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) October 2, 2023
"I have great respect for him... With the next group that went in, it's hard to argue with a with a 37-22 record and a plus five net rating." pic.twitter.com/3UJiCpCvxZ
Julius Randle averaged 25.1 points, ten rebounds and four assists in 77 games during the 2022-23 season. The power forward was selected to play in his second All-Star game and was named to the 2022-23 All-NBA Third Team. Yet, an ankle injury hampered him in the Playoffs, where he averaged 16.6 points and 8.3 rebounds.
Despite his strong stats, Randle has been the source of ire and frustration for many fans since joining the Knicks in 2019. Thanks to Kris Pursiainen for posting a video of coach Tom Thibodeau addressing criticism of Julius Randle: “It’s hard to be all-nba two out of the last three years […]. He’s gotten a lot better. Last year, in the playoffs, he was nicked up pretty good as we all saw,” said Thibs in the clip.
Thibodeau went on to confirm that Randle is fully ready to play after arthroscopic surgery on the ankle. (h/t Ian Begley)
Thibs was quick to defend Randles postseason play: “In the Miami series, he had some really good games […] and he was doing it on a sore ankle. So, just keep growing. Every year, you’re going to learn different things. You don’t get there all at once. When you look at his career, one of the things I really respect, he’s gotten better every year. He continues to get better. And so, now, to figure out […] we gotta do this together. So he, Jalen, RJ, they’ve got to make sacrifices, too. And they’ve done that. Our whole group has to do that. How can we bring the best out of each other, that’s the challenge we face.”
Later, RJ Barrett paid Randle a nice compliment in his chance to address the media. “I just realized that I’ve only known NBA basketball with Julius Randle and that’s actually pretty cool,” said RJ of the man seated beside him.
Randle was asked about changing his representation from CAA to WME Sports. He joked that it was “to be closer to RJ,” who is also a WME client. Actually, he confirmed that it was to be closer to Andrew Thomas who had previously represented Randle at CAA before jumping to WME a year or two ago. (Full quote here.)
Here Thibs talks about what the team “means to the city”:
"The thing is that there's no place like New York and we know that. Particularly for the Knicks, we know how much this team means to the city and we're excited to have the opportunity to represent the city."— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) October 2, 2023
- Tom Thibodeau on Knicks fans and playing in New York pic.twitter.com/fdfEPpa3I3
And Jalen Brunson discusses the team’s work ethic:
Jalen Brunson was asked how he believes this team has improved since last season:— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) October 2, 2023
"We have a bunch of guys that love to work on their game and have a great work ethic... we have guys that we have to kick out of the gym. It's not a problem for guys to work on their game." pic.twitter.com/150q56vrXk
More to come!