Knicks fans take it easy on Julius Randle as trade deadline looms

Julius Randle got some light boos during pregame introductions in his first home game since his infamous thumbs-down gesture.

But really it’s not just what the fans think but Knicks brass.

Randle’s standing with the brass is unknown. The team didn’t comment on Randle’s gesture to Knicks’ fans in the last home game Thursday versus Boston when he gave a symbolic thumbs down to fans. He later profanely explained he did it to have the fans “shut the f–k up.’’

And now this latest report about Jerami Grant.

During 2020 free agency, the Knicks, as The Post has reported, were involved in the Grant Sweepstakes.

It was a sign they weren’t enamored with power forward Randle after signing him to a three-year, $63 million package in 2019 since Grant plays exactly that position.

Grant didn’t give the Knicks much of a consideration and the Pistons outbid them anyway in offering the power forward a three-year, $60 million package.

Julius Randle
NBAE via Getty Images

Grant went off the radar as Randle performed brilliantly last season in making his first All-Star Game, winning the league’s Most Improved Player award, being named second team All-NBA and then signing a four-year, $117 million contract.

And now it may have come full circle. The rebuilding Pistons are open to trading Grant and the Knicks reportedly have shown some interest.

With their persistent monitoring of the Myles Turner situation in Indiana, it’s a demonstration the Knicks may not be totally sold on Randle for the long term.

Grant, who has been out since Dec. 10 after undergoing thumb surgery, has played in just 24 games, is averaging 20.1 points but just 4.8 rebounds and shooting 33.1 percent from 3.

Conceivably, Randle and Grant can work together since Grant can play some small forward. But perhaps it’s part of a larger Randle-Grant swap. Grant was actually chosen over Randle for the U.S. Olympic Team last summer.

The Knicks do have a potential logjam at power forward long term because of second-year power forward Obi Toppin.

The Pistons passed on Toppin in the 2020 draft to take point guard Killian Hayes. Toppin has shown signs of promise this season but Randle’s presence blocks his path and he could be on the trading block if Randle is kept.

The NBA unleashed a $25,000 fine for profanity, though Randle apologized on Instagram and still sounded committed to the organization.

Julius Randle gestures a thumbs-down to Knicks fans.
Julius Randle gestures a thumbs-down to Knicks fans.
Getty Images

“Just want to send a quick message to our fans and be clear — I love NYC and being a part of this team and this franchise,” Randle wrote. “And like most Knicks fans, I am really passionate about us being successful.’’

Are the Knicks committed to Randle? Turner has been on the trade block and the Knicks have long held interest. He’s a stretch 4 — which has been a hole on the Knicks roster since they traded Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas.

Randle’s 3-point shot has disappeared this season. Toppin is struggling from long range and none of their four centers even have so much as a reliable jump shot.

Turner could definitely be a player the Knicks hotly pursue at the Feb. 10 deadline. It really isn’t clear where Grant’s skill set is better than Randle’s other than he’s a better team defender.

Randle had his first chance to make amends in Boston on Saturday but put forth a lousy six-turnover game and looked to be pressing. When he faced San Antonio on Monday, it was his first chance to win back the fans who adored him last season.

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