BOSTON — Tom Thibodeau listened to the frustration of Quentin Grimes, and on Friday, he responded.
Not with words but with a lineup change, removing the guard from the starting lineup and replacing him with Donte DiVincenzo as the Knicks fell to the Celtics, 133-123.
“He kind of let me know to try to get me a better rhythm, get me in a better flow, try to get me how I was playing last year,” Grimes said of the conversation with Thibodeau. “He felt like it was the best thing to do and I agree with him. It’s a good thing. I’m going to do whatever he needs me to do, really.”
Grimes has struggled this season, and after the one-sided loss to the Bucks on Tuesday, he broke his silence on the subject, voicing his frustration with his limited offensive opportunities in the starting lineup while tasked nightly with guarding the most dangerous perimeter threat on the opposing team.
He took only one shot in that game — missing badly from three-point range — and sat out the entire fourth quarter for the third straight game.
He insisted that he is on board with the change and the chance to get more opportunities playing with the second unit. The first test seemed to provide that as he scored 13 points in 19:23, shooting 5-for-10 from the field.
“I’m cool with it, doing whatever Thibs needs me to do to help the team win,” Grimes said. “He felt like that was the best thing, so I’m just doing whatever they need from me right now. It might [be better], but like I said, I try to come in and do whatever I had to do to help the team win going into every game, really.”
Thibodeau was vague before the game, refusing to make the announcement despite repeated questions. But multiple sources confirmed the move and Grimes then spoke about it.
“Whenever Donte is out there, he plays well, and Quentin had a great game for us off the bench,” RJ Barrett said. “Whatever we do, we’ve just got to be sure we come out of these games with some wins.”
When Grimes became a starter early last season, it marked a turning point for the Knicks’ fortunes. His defense and shooting provided a complementary piece to the main cogs in the team’s offense — Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and Barrett. He entered this season with the same job, but his minutes and opportunities have shrunk with the offseason signing of DiVincenzo, who provides a similar skill set.
Grimes is in a tough spot. He’s eligible for a contract extension at the end of this season, but he said he isn’t allowing that to contribute to his struggles.
“Nah, you can’t think like that, too far ahead, because that can mess with your whole mental,” he said. “So I’ve got a support cast around me, my family, to keep me grounded. Just go out there and do whatever I can to help the team win and everything will take care of itself.”