OKLAHOMA CITY – Julius Randle could probably use a day off but not like this.
Randle is the latest Knick to enter COVID-19 protocols and will miss the New Year’s Eve game at Paycom Center against the Thunder. Randle, who has been struggling, had not missed a game this season.
The Post reported assistant coach Johnnie Bryant also went into protocols Thursday.
Randle looked sluggish in his latest outing in Minnesota and was benched in the fourth quarter.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said after Randle’s latest dud he is “nicked up a bit.” MSG Network’s Wally Szczerbiak speculated he has a sore knee, per camera footage.
Randle’s rags-to-riches tale of 2020-21 has taken a severe turn for the worse. The forward hit rock bottom after two shoddy performances in Minnesota and Detroit during which he shot 7 for 31 and combined for seven turnovers and seven assists. Knicks fans now get their wish for the next few games — Obi Toppin starting at power forward.
When the always cheery Knicks TV network is pounding the franchise’s lone All-Star player, something is amiss. Szczerbiak did just that on MSG Network after Wednesday’s Motown survival.
Randle – and all the starters – sat the fourth quarter because of ineffective play.
“I don’t know what’s going on with Julius Randle – maybe there’s something going on with his knee,’’ said Szczerbiak, the former Timberwolves star. “He was rubbing it in the Minnesota game. His body language is poor.
“When he goes to set a screen, he just stands there. Taj Gibson sets a screen to get Immanuel Quickley an open 3. Jules can do the same thing for any guard in that starting unit. But he doesn’t look engaged when he goes to set a screen. He just stands there. It’s part of playing in the NBA.’’
It’s unclear if COVID-19 had anything to do with his outing in which he was a minus-27 and scored five points on 2 of 11 shooting.