Considering that Friday’s preseason opener will come exactly nine months since the Knicks last played a game, it figures to be just a taste of what’s on tap for an unusual 2020-21 NBA campaign.
Julius Randle is setting his expectations accordingly.
“It’s going to be a weird season,” Randle said Wednesday after the Knicks’ fourth day of training camp. “It’s going to be fast-paced, but just being able to play with confidence and play unselfish, we’ll be fine.”
Randle’s answer came after a question about the quick turnaround for the Knicks’ rookies. There won’t be much of anything normal for anyone on the roster, including veterans like Randle. Between the long offseason, the expedited preseason and the games that will be played in front of empty arenas, the Knicks won’t be alone in figuring it out as they go.
That begins Friday night with a preseason game against the Pistons.
“It’s going to be sloppy,” Randle said. “There’s going to be a lot of mistakes. As long as we’re out there playing hard, communicating, talking on defense and making extra-effort plays, everything else will work out.”
As for his early impressions of a Tom Thibodeau-run training camp, Randle said there has been a heavy attention to detail.
“I didn’t come in with expectations or prejudgements or whatever,” Randle said. “I base everything on my interactions and relationships with him, and it’s been great. A lot of teaching. He’s a very hard-working guy, very into details. It’s been amazing so far.”
New free-agent addition Austin Rivers did not practice because of a pulled groin, which the Knicks plan to be patient with.
“I think it puts you behind, but you also want to be smart about it,” Thibodeau said. “Pulls and strains I think you gotta be careful with. When he’s healthy and ready to go, then he’ll go. Right now, it gives us a chance to evaluate some other guys. When he’s healthy enough, he’ll get going.”
The Knicks waived guard Jacob Evans, whom they acquired with Omari Spellman and a future second-round pick from the Timberwolves in a trade for Ed Davis.
The Knicks signed center/forward Skal Labissiere, the team announced. The No. 28 pick in 2016 is the sixth Kentucky product on the Knicks’ training camp roster. Labissiere averaged 5.8 points and 5.1 rebounds last season with the Trail Blazers. He is expected to be a candidate to play for G-League Westchester.