Randle: ‘Huge respect’ for injured Butler (ankle)


TARRYTOWN, NY — new York Knicks all-star forward Julius Randle says he has “great respect” for Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler as both players are nursing ankle injuries midway through their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

“I have a lot of respect for Jimmy,” Randle said after practice on Thursday. “You know the type of player he is, but mentally you know he’s going to lock in and no matter how he’s feeling, he’ll be great. We just want to hit it as hard as we can.” Can do for that and just limit.” Our mistakes on our part.”

Randle, who initially injured his left ankle at the end of the regular season, then re-injured it in Game 5 of the Knicks’ series- cleveland cavaliers Last week, he was forced to miss Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the Heat, the same game in which Butler injured his right ankle. Butler then missed Game 2.

Randle said after Game 2 that the recovery process to get back on the floor was “hell”, pointing specifically to the mental aspect of his recovery.

“It’s not really pain,” Randle said Thursday. “It’s getting back on the court. For me it was not being able to do anything for a while and getting my conditioning back, reactivating the muscles. The recovery after that. Healing an injury. Trying to do it. Mentally it will take a toll not only on you, but on my wife, my family, everyone in the organization. Thankfully for me I have a great supporting cast of people encouraging me .

The Knicks believe Butler will find a way to take the field for Game 3 on Saturday, especially because there is a three-day break between Games 2 and 3. New York leaves for Miami on Friday afternoon. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, who coached Butler in both Chicago and Minnesota, said he believes his team will be ready to face the up-and-coming star when and if he returns.

“The good thing about the situation we’ve been through right now is we played one game where he played and one game where he didn’t,” Thibodeau said. “So we know the style of play, what he brings, how they will be different when he plays. We also know how he will play when he doesn’t play.

“You are drawn to the strength of the club.”

Just as Butler did prior to Thibodeau’s arrival in New York, Randle has earned the veteran coach’s trust by doing everything he can to stay on the floor. Randle admitted there was never any doubt in his mind that he would return for Game 2 after missing close to a week rehabbing the ankle.

Randall said, “There was no way I was sitting outside at all.”

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