By Sandy Mui
Published: March 8th, 2017
The New York Knicks lost out on Chasson Randle once, and they weren’t going to let that happen again. After reaching a buyout agreement with veteran point guard Brandon Jennings, the Knicks immediately jumped on signing Randle, who had been waived by the Philadelphia 76ers just four days earlier.
Randle joined the Knicks for the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, where he put on a show. The 24-year-old point guard averaged the second-highest points per game and third-highest assists per game, impressive statistics for a player who had gone undrafted one year ago.
Still, the Knicks opted not to give one of their roster spots to Randle, and waived him after three preseason games. This was understandable at the time, with the team already full of immovable backcourt players. Randle ultimately lost the chance to suit up in orange and blue because the Knicks had given the third-string point guard role to Ron Baker, another young rookie with plenty of upside.
Ten days after Randle was released, he was acquired by the Westchester Knicks, New York’s D-League affiliate. There, the Knicks could still keep an eye on the young prospect, while still using veteran backcourt players at the NBA level.
Where did it all go wrong? Well, a lot has gone wrong with the Knicks since then, but without Randle on their NBA roster, the Knicks could not prevent any other teams from signing the former Pac-12 All-Freshman. And that is exactly what happened.
In January, the 76ers had a vacancy on their roster after waiving small forward Hollis Thompson, and wanted to use the opening for a backup point guard. They scheduled numerous point guards for a workout, among them being Randle.
Randle was tearing it up in the D-League, posting 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 32 minutes per game for Westchester. In the end, with other D-League prospects Briante Weber, Yogi Ferrell, and Cat Barber as options, Philadelphia elected to go with Randle and signed him to a 10-day contract.
It wouldn’t be long until Randle began moving around in the league once again. Despite signing a three-year deal with Philadelphia after his 10-day deal was over, he played only eight games for Philadelphia and was assigned to the 76ers’ D-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, at one point. Then, on Feb. 23, Philadelphia had to clear roster space in order to deal big man Nerlens Noel—subsequently resulting in Randle’s second release by an NBA team in the 2016-17 season.
Randle would find his NBA journey coming full circle after being picked up by the Knicks again, for the first time since the Summer League ended. New York was finally back in the picture.
Knicks’ head coach Jeff Hornacek had nothing but praise for Randle. “Chasson has a good feel for the game,” Hornacek told the New York Post. “He knows where shots come, and where guys need to get the ball in the offense. He’s more of a playmaker who can score. Ron [Baker] will probably get the first shots [as backup point guard], but we want to get Chasson in there when we can.”
The Knicks will have to accept missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year after their performance this season. Parting ways with Jennings and giving Randle a new opportunity are the most recent steps the Knicks have taken to transition into their confusing rebuild. And while the stability of the Knicks remains in question, Randle will still have 20 games this season to show that he belongs in the NBA.