NEW ORLEANS — Kurt Rambis doesn’t plan to change the starting lineup or rotation much now that the Knicks are officially eliminated from playoff contention.
The interim coach will continue to start Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic in the backcourt and bring rookie Jerian Grant off the bench. Rambis said that’s the right role for Grant.
“The matchups are probably better suited for him coming off the bench,” Rambis said yesterday before the Knicks’ morning shootaround. “He’s learning things. His getting out there and seeing situations is good for him. But like all young players, he’s making mistakes, and we’re working on him to correct those mistakes.
“This year and the years to come, it’s going to be a learning process for him. It’s still the toughest position in the NBA to learn.”
Grant, whom the Knicks acquired in a draft night deal with the Hawks for Tim Hardaway Jr., hasn’t produced the way they hoped. He entered Monday night averaging 4.9 points and 2.2 assists in 15.4 minutes. This would seem the time to give him more minutes and help his development, but in four of the last six games, he played less than 12 minutes.
Grant was scoreless with three assists in 9:58 in Monday night’s loss to the Pelicans. He didn’t play in the second half because Rambis didn’t like the way he was “organizing the offense.”
“Jerian’s minutes have been going up,” Rambis said. “But we’re still evaluating guys, we’re still looking at our team, we’re still looking at character and work ethic and behavior. There’s a lot of things that we’re looking at. We still want to drive the players to have this mindset to win ballgames, and they have to keep that mindset.”
Carmelo Anthony said his favorite college team before he chose Syracuse was St. John’s. He thought about going there “early in high school . . . To go from St. John’s to Syracuse, it’s a big flip.” . . . Lance Thomas, who missed his 11th consecutive game with a strained left MCL, recently started running but still is not cutting.