Julius Randle should find out shortly before Tuesday’s game at the Garden, with the attendance of fans, if he will play an extra game this season among the NBA’s elite.
The league will announce its All-Star reservations Tuesday at 7 p.m. on TNT, and Randle remains under consideration, but is not locked, to be one of seven players added from the Eastern Conference.
It would be the first career All-Star designation for Randle, who is in his second season of a three-year, $ 62.1 million contract with the Knicks.
The 26-year-old power forward, and the player Tom Thibodeau described Sunday as the “driving force” of the Knicks, is certainly a worthy candidate.
Randle has posted career-high points (23.2), rebounds (11.0), assists (5.5) and minutes (36.8) in the Knicks’ 15-16 start as he entered Tuesday’s home game against Golden State. He’s also shooting 41.0 percent from 3-point range, a significant improvement from the 29.5 percent he posted from long range in his first six NBA seasons.
The only other players to average at least 23-11-5 this season are Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Denver’s Nikola Jokic.
However, those impressive numbers – and the Knicks’ huge improvement – still might not be enough for Randle to have a place in the East in the vote by the conference head coaches.
The Nets’ James Harden and Boston’s Jaylen Brown will certainly add on the backcourt, and Ben Simmons will likely also be listed as a second All-Star for conference leading Philadelphia. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum also plans to land one of the reserve spots in the frontcourt.
That leaves just three openings on the 12-man squad, with Randle likely competing with Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, Miami’s Bam Adebayo, Philadelphia’s Tobias Harris, Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic, Charlotte’s Gordon Hayward and Charlotte’s Jerami Grant. Detroit up front, as well as guards Zach LaVine from Chicago, Trae Young from Atlanta and Jimmy Butler from Miami.
If not selected initially, Randle could still be added as a replacement if a selected player withdraws due to injury or COVID-19 concerns.
The starting unit for the East features Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid in the frontcourt, with guards Kyrie Irving and Bradley Beal. The coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players as reserves.
The Knicks announced Monday that limited tickets for the March 4 home game against Detroit were available for public sale. Tickets were opened first to season ticket holders, followed by the general public, starting at $ 50, at nyknicks.com.