Julius Randle poses on the observation deck after he throws...

Julius Randle poses on the observation deck after he throws the switch to light the Empire State Building in blue and white celebrating the 140th birthday of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Friday, May 31, 2024. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Julius Randle was soaking in the most iconic New York City tourist attraction on Friday, pulling the lever to light the Empire State Building — with his left hand, keeping his surgically repaired right shoulder safely away from it. And after a series of photos, he spoke about his desire to remain a New York institution himself.

Randle, who has two years remaining on his contract with the Knicks, is eligible for a four-year contract extension this summer worth up to $181.5 million. And with the city far below him as he spoke on the edge of the 86th floor, Randle enthusiastically expressed his desire to be a part of the Knicks for years to come.

“I’ve always said from the very beginning I would love to be here in New York and I would love to continue to add on to what the guys did in the playoffs,” said Randle, who averaged 24.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists this season. “I feel like that was my personal — biggest personal goal or I’d say team goal in a sense — when I got here. I wanted to help build and compete and to get to the point where we’re at now, where it’s an actual possibility.

“That’s what my focus is, doing whatever I can to make sure I get healthy and get back and make sure I’m ready whenever we start playing again, contribute to winning.”

Randle suffered a dislocated right shoulder on Jan. 27 and had surgery in April after trying to rehabilitate it enough to get back this season. He watched the playoff run from the sideline as the shorthanded Knicks made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Pacers before running out of luck and healthy bodies.

After signing on as one of the first pieces of the rebuild in New York, Randle is excited to get back to health and try to see what this team can do with all of the pieces in place.

“That’s the motivation,” he said. “We can always say, ‘What if, this, that and the next.’ But our job right now is to get healthy first off, and then continue to get better, make strides and continue to just improve as individuals. I think everybody is excited to get back and get things going next year. But a little time before that.

“It was extremely tough [to watch from the bench], because as a competitor you want to play. But I’m so proud of the guys, man. I can go down the line — start with Jalen [Brunson], he did amazing. Great leadership. Guys like Josh [Hart], Donte [DiVincenzo], Isaiah [Hartenstein], Precious [Achiuwa] and Deuce [McBride]. All those guys stepping up and filling in a bigger role and playing the way that they did was absolutely amazing. I’m excited just to be able to help whenever I can get back.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau said after the season-ending loss to Indiana that he wants to see the group back next season.

“I love the group,” he said. “As a coach, you couldn’t ask for a better group.”

Randle, who received the NBA’s community assist award in January, was at the Empire State Building to commemorate the 140th anniversary of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The NBA donated $10,000 to Memorial Sloan Kettering Kids as part of the award.

“I’ve done stuff within cancer research before, with children,” Randle said. “And my wife, this is an organization that’s obviously near and dear to her, with her family as well. And she’s done things with Memorial Sloan Kettering. When the opportunity came to represent them and be able to help out and bring more notice and recognition to it, of course, I couldn’t pass on it.”

For now, Randle is focused on his own health — remaining in New York this summer as he rehabilitates from surgery.

“I feel good,” he said. “Recovery’s been great. I think really that rehab that I did for a couple months before really helped me out, because coming out of surgery, I felt amazing.”


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