Increasingly, there may be one title I hold coming again to each time the dialog facilities round Julius Randle. These era-to-era comparisons aren’t all the time 100% correct, they usually aren’t all the time truthful, and they’re by nature inexact science. Nonetheless, one title retains coming again to me.

Walt Bellamy.

Right here is Pete Axthelm, in his masterpiece 1970 e book “The Metropolis Recreation,” describing Bellamy, whom the Knicks acquired from the Baltimore Bullets on Nov. 2, 1965 — in trade for Johnny Inexperienced, Johnny Egan, Jim Barnes and money. Bellamy averaged 18.9 factors and 13.3 rebounds in taking pictures 52.2 % throughout 268 video games as a Knick (and completed at No. 60 on The Submit’s rating of the highest 75 Knicks of all time in 2021):

“Bellamy remained probably the most irritating enigma within the sport … Bellamy would outplay Wilt Chamberlain one night time, then wander trancelike via the following two video games. To classy Backyard followers … the reply appeared apparent: commerce Bellamy for a high ahead. Engaging in this, nevertheless, was not easy. Standout forwards had been scarce on the buying and selling market and no matter his flaws, Bellamy was nonetheless one of many sport’s rating massive males. GM Eddie Donovan didn’t need to give him away with out receiving actual worth.”

It’s a little bit eerie, proper?

All these years later, you hear the identical grumbling about Randle, who two years in the past was chosen to the All-NBA second workforce, who this 12 months made third workforce, whose uncooked numbers as a Knick are greater than corresponding to Bellamy’s: 284 video games, 22.3 factors, 10.0 rebounds, 49.8 % 2-point taking pictures (the one type in Bellamy’s day).

Walt Bellamy

The 2 males had this primary reality in widespread, too: If you happen to watched the Knicks from a distance, it appears unimaginable to know how there may very well be a criticism with both. Most nights Bellamy was — and Randle is — both the clear No. 1 or No. 2 participant on a workforce that gained extra video games than it misplaced.

However it’s watching up shut, each night time, with a private funding within the workforce, that the point of view can shift. In Bellamy’s case, in Axthelm’s phrases: “He regularly slipped into moodiness and inconsistency. If something his commerce to New York appeared to make him extra unpredictable.”

In Randle’s, it’s the truth that he too usually lapses into protection indifference, is method too sloppy with the ball, and although he’s a gifted passer, he’s nonetheless not terribly proficient discovering the right spot out of double-teams, which he sees usually.

Julius Randle assaults the basket throughout Recreation 6.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

There’s a sizable — and vocal — contingent of Knicks followers who’ve seen sufficient of Randle, who consider — with some trigger — that the workforce has maximized its ceiling with him as a foundational piece.

Tom Thibodeau stays a staunch Randle advocate — “Julius continues to be younger,” the coach mentioned within the aftermath of Friday’s Recreation 6 elimination in Miami, “he’s simply getting into his prime” — however give Thibodeau a touch of reality serum in his morning espresso and he’s nearly sure to let you know that his workforce, as is, is a shooter and a stud away from really being an elite contender.

And that’s most likely the place Randle has to return in.

Look, the notion that he wants to easily be exiled is ludicrous and farcical. Once more, there are simply 15 gamers yearly, in a league of 450, who’re accorded all-league honors, and also you don’t win them in a lottery. Randle has been so honored twice as a Knick. You don’t simply hand away a man like that. And Leon Rose — like Eddie Donovan earlier than him — isn’t going to half methods with Randle until he can establish actual worth. And right here’s one other factor to contemplate: These aren’t all the time apparent choices.

Julius Randle
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

Donovan finally traded Bellamy for Dave DeBusschere, and what we all know now with certainty after 55 years of hindsight is that it was the perfect commerce in Knicks historical past, and nearly probably the greatest trades in sports activities historical past. However that’s completely due to what occurred. It labored. It reworked the Knicks into champions. The proof flaps excessive above the Backyard ground, two championship banners and one retired No. 22 jersey.

However the day the commerce was introduced?

Return. Learn the reactions. DeBusschere was an excellent participant. Within the second, solely ardent supporters — like Donovan — believed it was a no brainer. Twitter in 1968 would have melted down on the announcement. Bellamy, it’s truthful to report, had already assembled a lot of the résumé that might land him within the Corridor of Fame; a lot of DeBusschere’s HOF work was nonetheless forward of him. It was a particular threat on Donovan’s half.

Leon Rose (r.) greet Jalen Brunson on his method off the court docket following Recreation 6.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

The type of threat Rose must face now. The Knicks generally is a good 45- to 50-win workforce with what they’ve bought, a second-round workforce. However that’s not what the sport is. The sport is concerning the subsequent degree. Can the Knicks get there?

They nonetheless have all these draft picks. They usually have Randle as an asset, too. That is the place the GM has to consider his personal convictions, establish the following brick of the muse, and make a play.

It’s good that a lot of the NBA appreciates Randle way over New York does. Rose can be relying on that within the months forward.