CLEVELAND — John Jenkins joined the Knicks on Monday on a 10-day contract and entered the night with low expectations of seeing playing time against the Cavaliers. Coach David Fizdale said he’d use him only in a pinch, but Jenkins found himself attempting a potential tying three-pointer in the final seconds. But it rimmed out, costing him the chance to play the hero.
“We had a pinch,” Fizdale said, laughing. “He got going. That’s what he can do. He can really shoot the basketball. And I said, ‘Why not take a shot at it with him,’ seeing that he’s hit a few shots.”
“I’m pretty shocked,” said Jenkins, who shot 3-for-5 and had seven points in nine minutes in the Knicks’ 107-104 loss. “This hasn’t happened much in my career, honestly . . . To come here, be here less than a day and have that opportunity, I’m very thankful.”
The former first-round pick out of Vanderbilt began his career by playing three seasons for the Hawks but since has shuttled between Dallas, Phoenix, the Westchester Knicks of the G League, back to Atlanta and then San Pablo Burgos in Europe. He returned to the Knicks’ G League affiliate this year before going to the Wizards on a 10-day contract and finally getting a shot with the Knicks.
“It’s incredible,” said Jenkins, 27. “I was playing in Spain at this time last year, never knowing if I’d have a chance to get back. I got a 10-day with the Wizards last week that ended yesterday and I was able to come here the same day. It’s been a whirlwind season for me.”
He hopes a spot on the Knicks will give him a chance, something Fizdale has provided to other G League players. “That’s all you can ask for from a coach,” Jenkins said. “We all have put in time in the G League to improve our games. That’s why we play the G League — for opportunities like this. They’ve done a great job of bringing us up and giving us a chance.”
Sticking to the plan
The Knicks have lost 17 straight, 25 of 26 and 30 of 32 to fall to the bottom of the NBA, but Fizdale said he isn’t discouraged because the team is sticking to its plan.
But the plan as described last summer — another lottery pick, free-agent stars coming aboard — didn’t include trading away Kristaps Porzingis, whom the team portrayed as the centerpiece of the rebuild until he was dealt away.
Fizdale defended the move. “Well, you don’t have a choice. What’s your option?” he said. “You’re going to lose him. So you’re going to sit there and not have nothing sitting there? Or do you want to have two picks, cap space and a heck of a point guard in Dennis Smith Jr., who’s in his second year?
"You can’t control every single thing that happens along the way. But if your response is sticking to the plan according to the planaccording to what’s happened, I think it’s the right way to go. Because a lot of times what you can get caught up in in a situation like that is falling off plan and starting to chase shiny things. And now you’re stuck with somebody that you don’t necessarily want at a high price. And we didn’t do that. We stuck to right from what we said from the beginning, and that’s what’s given me a lot of confidence with these guys.”