GREENBURGH, N.Y — It’s all basketball, all the time.
That is the thought process that binds Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau and his young guard, Immanuel Quickley. The two may be of different generations, have different temperaments and embrace different styles of play, but when it comes to the way they approach the game, they are nose-to-the-grindstone soulmates.
"I love the guy. Probably no one spends more time here than him," Thibodeau said after practice Friday. "Well, Julius Randle spends a ton, too. But [Immanuel] just loves the game so much.
"There’s not a lot of other things that he does. It’s come here, work, leave, come back again at night, work again, study film, get ready for the next day and the next game. He’s a really good competitor. In practice, if it’s a shooting drill or competition drill, you are going to get all he has."
Of course, Quickley is quick to point out that there’s not a lot of other things that Thibodeau does, either.
"Every time I come here, 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock at night, he’s always in his room waving to me," Quickley said. "It’s great to have a coach who is putting in just as much time as you. You want someone who is dedicated to their craft and is going to push the group and individuals to be the best they can be."
Quickley, whom the Knicks took with the No. 25 pick out of Kentucky, played like a lottery pick for most of his rookie year last season, averaging 11.4 points and hitting 39% of his three-pointers. He won over Knicks fans with his flashy, uptempo style of play and his ability to hit the deep three.
Quickley again will be coming off the bench this year with a strong second unit. The Knicks, however, could be grooming him for something bigger.
In summer league, Quickley was the team’s starting point guard and spent a lot of time in on-the-court discussions with Thibodeau and the Knicks’ coaching staff. It was a learning experience that should serve him well as he tries to take the next step in his career.
"He’s highly motivated," Thibodeau said. "He came in the day after the season and he wanted to play in the summer league. Usually, guys who have played that amount of minutes don’t want to do that. He wants to continue to grow."
Derrick Rose, who has played under Thibodeau on three different teams, says it helps to have a certain type of personality to mesh with him, especially as a young player.
"It’s confidence," Rose said. "Quick is kind of crazy, seriously. He has his own style. You have to be a rebel in a way and have your own style."
Your own style and the desire to put in hard work.
Notes & quotes: Randle missed practice and will not be with the team in Washington for Saturday’s preseason game against the Wizards. Thibodeau said he was excused for personal reasons. Randle’s wife is due to give birth to their second child . . . When asked if he thinks this season’s team can be better than the one that was 41-31 and went to the playoffs last season, Rose said: "I think so. Offensively, we added a lot of offense to the team. Defensively, that’s where we have to go out and compete and be on the same page."