Julius Randle believes playing in New York is the toughest room to win over in the NBA.
And he admits vindication after being viewed in a negative light as the Knicks went 21-45 last season — his first with the club.
Randle said he had always improved each season — until 2019-20.
“I felt like I wasn’t playing my best basketball,’’ Randle said Friday on JJ Redick’s podcast. “I don’t care what anyone says — there’s no tougher place to play than New York with the media and the fans who know and love the game. It’s a tough place to play. Anyone who loves the game is going to be sensitive about their craft. I was sensitive to it and really wanted to get better. My progression in my career was every year I got better. I took it personal and a challenge and think I’ve done that.’’
As Randle mounts an All-Star campaign (reserves will be revealed Tuesday), he has recently been doing his share of national media. Coincidentally, Redick, a veteran sharpshooter for the Pelicans who lives in Dumbo, Brooklyn, is on the trade block. The Post reported Redick prefers to be dealt to the Knicks or Nets.
On the podcast Redick, the former Duke star, and Randle each acknowledged their love of the Garden.
“It is what makes the Knicks experience I feel, like, special,’’ Redick said. “Playing in New York is amazing. I choose to live in New York City in the offseason. I love the city. Madison Square Garden going back since the McDonald’s All American game, it’s been my favorite arena.’’
The Knicks will play their final game before fans are allowed back in the Garden on Sunday against the Timberwolves.
“It’s definitely different,’’ Randle said. “You go to certain places and — I’m not going to knock certain arenas — but you got to create your energy. Madison Square Garden is not a place you usually have to do that. But it’s still Madison Square and we’re still lucky to play there.”
If ESPN Radio’s Michael Kay is correct, Knicks senior VP William Wesley could face NBA tampering charges regarding Bradley Beal. Kay reportedly said on the radio last week, citing a source, that Wesley was using back channels to try to convince Beal to demand a trade from Washington. Wesley formerly worked as a Creative Artists Agency consultant and has traveled to almost all the Knicks’ road games, The Post has learned.
Agent Mark Bartelstein, who runs Priority Sports in Chicago, said last week Beal is not close to looking to move.
“He doesn’t want to quit on something,” Bartelstein told Yahoo Sports. “He’s an incredibly loyal guy, and he wants to always feel like he’s done everything he can to help something or someone be successful.’’
The Post reported last week the Knicks withheld Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina and any first-round picks in a Derrick Rose deal to save for a potential blockbuster for a Beal type.
Rose said the past three days off were important to get acclimated to his new team. Rose has played five games, excelling in the first three before tailing off in the last two (4-for-19 shooting, three turnovers).
“Thankful for it,’’ Rose said. “I’m using the last two three games to get myself adjusted here, still getting my body right and learning the guys, trying to adjust to the team. It’s only my fifth game. I’m still learning the plays. It might sound crazy but it’s been a while since I’ve been under [coach Tom Thibodeau].’’
Because of a scheduling quirk, the Knicks haven’t faced the Timberwolves since March 10, 2019. Both their games against Minnesota last season, scheduled for April, were canceled because of the pandemic.