Julius Randle earned a sizeable NBA windfall after a Most Improved Player/All-Star campaign thrust the downtrodden New York Knicks into a fourth seed and primary first-round hosting duties during the 2021 NBA playoffs.
He might have to earn it all over again as the Knicks prepare to embark on the latest chapter of a seemingly perpetual rebuild.
Randle is set to enter his fourth season with the Knicks, which might as well come with a senior discount in the metropolitan world of constant roster turnover. A combination of prior success, a young roster, and head coach Tom Thibodeau's propensity to reply upon veterans make him an obvious choice to serve as the team's leader going into the 2022-23 campaign.
For that to work effectively, Randle will have to overcome a disappointing follow-up to his career-best showing. His dips in nearly every major statistical category were the headlines, perhaps even the scapegoats, of the Knicks' tumble down the standings, going from fourth in the Eastern Conference to six games removed from the mere Play-In Tournament.
Despite the struggles, Randle spent the Knicks' "Content Day" proceedings insisting there was a good bit to learn about both himself and the team as they prepare to move forward.
"There are hurdles, ups and downs, all different types of things," Randle said in video from SNY. "But, like anything in a season, whether it's a great season, whether it's a bad season, you learn. I think I learned a lot, for sure."
Some saw Randle, set to play the first year of a four-season, $117 million extension offered to him after that lucrative, shortened 2021-22 showing, as prime trade bait as the Knicks tried to build a de facto budget for Jalen Brunson. But as training camp tips off, Randle appears to be secure in New York and he plans on fully embracing any leadership roles afforded to him, especially since Brunson doesn't see himself as a "savior" of the franchise upon his entry.
"I learned a lot (from 2021-22) ... When it's good, it's easy to be a leader," Randle said. "When things aren't as good, when you're going through adversity, I think it's even more important. So I learned a lot. I'm just excited. I feel great about our team, physically and mentally where we are as a team. I'm ready to get the ball rolling."
That ball unofficially starts rolling on Oct. 4, when the Knicks open their preseason against the Detroit Pistons.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
Follow AllKnicks.com on Twitter.