There is no lottery pick to watch and none of the free-agent signings will be in uniform, but when the Knicks begin practice for the Las Vegas Summer League on Tuesday, there will be some players on hand whom fans will want to keep an eye on.
All three of last season’s draft picks — Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride and Jericho Sims — will be participating. Though the Knicks’ free-agent signings may drop McBride and Sims further down Tom Thibodeau’s rotation when the season begins, Grimes is an interesting player who could be in the mix for a starting job when the regular season begins.
Grimes, who was taken with the No. 25 pick in the first round last summer, started only six games out of the 46 he played in last season, but he did seem to catch Thibodeau’s eye with his defense and three-point shooting and was done in more by circumstance than a coach’s decision.
He made his first start on Dec. 12 against Milwaukee and scored 27 points, but he then tested positive for COVID-19 and sat out the next five games. When he returned, he was slowed by fatigue and conditioning problems. He then started a stretch of four games, averaging 13.3 points and shooting 46.7% from beyond the arc, but he suffered a dislocated patella 14 seconds into his next appearance and missed 16 of the last 22 games.
Grimes could contend for a starting job this season, mostly because as the Knicks investigate the trade market, Evan Fournier remains a contract that the team wouldn’t mind including in a deal.
Fournier set a franchise record last season for most three-point field goals made in a season, but he is not the defender that Grimes is. And with two guaranteed years left at approximately $18 million per season, he could have more value on a contending team in need of shooting than he does for the Knicks.
McBride and Sims saw their opportunities dimmed by free agency. With the Knicks already crowded at guard, the team signed Jalen Brunson as the starting point guard.
With Derrick Rose back after missing most of last season and Immanuel Quickley expected to get court time, minutes could be limited for McBride. With Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel dealing with injuries, Sims got time last season despite being the 58th pick in last year’s draft. He played 41 games and started five.
Robinson re-signed with the Knicks, who also signed Isaiah Hartenstein. They are likely to bring back Taj Gibson, who saw time at center last year and expanded his game with improved three-point shooting.
The Knicks will have this year’s only draft pick, Duke’s Trevor Keels, who was taken with the 42nd overall selection, on the Summer League roster. Jean Montero, who starred for Overtime Elite, will join the Knicks, having signed an Exhibit 10 contract after going undrafted.
The Knicks will hold two-a-day workouts Tuesday and Wednesday and then practice Thursday before beginning their Summer League schedule Friday against Golden State at 8 p.m. EDT.