Knicks' Tom Thibodeau calls Julius Randle a 'pro's pro' while watching him in bubble workouts

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Tom Thibodeau gesturing
Tom Thibodeau gesturing

A few notes from Tom Thibodeau’s press conference on Tuesday:

Pleased with Julius Randle

Thibodeau credited Randle for his professional approach during Knicks workouts. He noted that Randle arrived in New York early to workout with coaches prior to the official start of individual workouts on Sept. 21.

“He’s a pro’s pro. He’s in great shape. He’s willing to work and do anything that you ask. Having that type of leadership is important for our team,” Thibodeau said. “We need a consistency from our entire team and we also need for everyone to want to continue to improve and I think he’s shown that and he demonstrated that to me over the past three or four weeks."

Randle was the Knicks’ biggest addition in free agency last summer. The club asked him to be the No. 1 offensive option and a team leader. As such, he received a brunt of the criticism when the club finished 21-45.

It will be interesting to see how the new Knicks regime views Randle. Based on numbers and the eye test, Knicks lineups featuring Randle and RJ Barrett last season didn’t perform well.

Can Thibodeau and his staff help Randle improve in his second season in New York? Based on Tuesday’s comments, the coach seems optimistic about working with Randle.

Kevin Knox shot very well in Bubble

Thibodeau and his staff will also be tasked with helping Knox play with more consistency. After playing big minutes as a rookie, Knox' time on the floor was reduced last season. He was playing on a shorter leash from the coaches, who presumably were trying to help him break unwanted habits on both ends of the court.

Thibodeau was asked about Knox performing more consistently.

“I think the first step is the preparation, the work, that’s where you get your confidence from. How he practices everyday. That will allow him to continue to develop,” Thibodeau said. “He has actually played very well here, he shot the ball very well, he’s put a lot of time into that…. There’s been ups and downs for him. Hopefully he continues to learn from those experiences. And then everything will be based upon performance. It’s how you practice first. You have to practice well with the team before you can begin to talk about playing time. And then when you’re playing in a game, everything will be based on performance.”

The Knicks are expected to have their final team workout on Wednesday. The remaining time in the Bubble will be spent on individual workouts. The bubble practices end on Oct. 6.

If the NBA permits it, coaches may continue to work with players after Oct. 6. Thibodeau reiterated that not all of the players who may be free agents in 2020 attended the voluntary team practices. Other Delete Eight teams had players address the media. No Knicks players have talked to the media during the Bubble. Players were given the option to not talk to the media.

Surprised about Doc

Thibodeau is close with Doc Rivers, having coached under him in Boston, and spent time in Los Angeles with Rivers and the Clippers during his year away from coaching.

Like many others around the NBA, Thibodeau was surprised that Rivers was fired.

“He’s one of my closest friends," he said. "We worked together in Boston. Doc is not only a great, great, great coach, he’s also a great person. I haven’t had an opportunity to talk to him but I’m sure he’ll be back very soon. He’s a terrific leader and great coach. But it sort’ve shows you the nature of our league and there’s constant change. You have to adapt quickly and I know he will. And someone will be fortunate to get a great coach.”

RJ playmaking

Thibodeau continues to be impressed with Barrett.

"(Tuesday), he had a terrific practice. Today was his best practice. He was rebounding the ball extremely well, he play-made today, did a great job with that,” Thibodeau said. “I just want him to concentrate on improvement. He’s a young player. Just getting the work part down, that’s the first step. Conditioning, continuing to work on his shooting, there’s a lot of things that he can do well.”

Tyrell Terry, others interview with Knicks

Stanford’s Terry and Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa both said on Tuesday that they’d done Zoom interviews with the Knicks and the Nets. RJ Hampton has interviewed with the Knicks, but has yet to interview with the Nets.

Hampton said part of his interview with New York was focused on the added attention that comes with playing in New York.