Alvin Gentry weighs in on Julius Randle’s Knicks struggles

Emotions have gotten the better of Julius Randle during his disappointing season. 

Whether it’s been railing at the referees, his thumbs-down gesture to the fans or refusal to meet with the press after several games since mid-December, the 2020-21 All-Star has acted more like a hothead than a heavenly body. 

Sacramento coach Alvin Gentry, his former coach with the Pelicans, saw firsthand Randle have fiery moments in New Orleans, where he played in 2018-19. 

“Obviously, it’s a little bit different when you play in this city,’’ Gentry said before his Kings fell to the Knicks, 116-96, at the Garden on Monday. “You need to be strong in all areas. He’s a pretty emotional guy. But I think it’s all for the better to me. We had episodes of that. I think it comes from a good place. I enjoyed coaching him and he played really good basketball for us.’’ 

There’s been rumors the Kings, who have considered dealing point guard De’Aaron Fox, could have some interest in reuniting Gentry and Randle. 

Julius Randle and former coach Alvin Gentry
AP, Getty Images

“I think he’s a better player [than in New Orleans],’’ Gentry said. “And he was a very good player for us. He was outstanding for us, really. I think he’s slowed himself down a little bit. Now I know he’s struggling a bit right now but it’s never because of effort. He hasn’t shot the ball as well. But the way he attacks the basket, and his ability to handle the ball in the open court and create plays are all things he was starting to do when he was in New Orleans and I think he’s much, much better at it right now. A good guy to coach because he loves the competition and doesn’t mind the contact.’’ 

Indeed, Randle still has been a freight train in roughhousing to the rim but can’t knock down a jump shot this season. His 3-point shooting has fallen from 41.1 percent to 30 percent in one season. 

In 13 games in January, Randle has averaged just 16 points — scoring 11 points or less in four contests before scoring 17 and grabbing nine rebounds against the Kings. 

“I don’t want to measure him on scoring,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I want to measure him on all the things he does for our team and that’s a compilation of a lot of things, whether it’s the playmaking, playing with speed, getting it up the floor quick, him running the floor. We’ve got to figure out how to get him some easy buckets too. I want us play with more pace, kick the ball ahead more, hopefully we can get some easy buckets that way.’’ 

Fox (sore ankle) missed his fifth straight game as the Kings finished their five-game, 11-day road trip. … Before Monday, there were just four teams the Knicks hadn’t faced this season. Sacramento and Memphis were two of them and the Knicks face them consecutively. The Grizzlies visit Wednesday. Utah and Portland are the other teams the Knicks haven’t played and they visit both on their upcoming western trip. 

The 10-day pact of PG Ryan Arcidiacono expired after the Knicks’ three-game road trip ended on Friday and wasn’t renewed. So the Knicks now have an open roster slot — which could be valuable near trade deadline.

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