LOS ANGELES — Quentin Grimes had ascended to a regular rotation role and even a handful of starts at guard before suffering a knee injury last month. Jericho Sims has taken over the backup center spot since the All-Star break. But the Knicks’ third rookie, guard Miles McBride, is still waiting for a regular role, much to the vexation of the Knicks’ fan base.
McBride played nearly eight minutes Friday in the loss at Phoenix, the first time he played at least three minutes in a game since Jan. 2, when the team was ravaged by injury and illness. With the Knicks staggering to the finish line in a lost season and no true point guard in the rotation, the question has been raised repeatedly: When will McBride’s chance come?
"This isn’t the first time he’s played," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He’s had two starts for us. He learned from those two games. He’s better than he was in those two games. What you don’t see is what he puts into practice. I see that. He has pretty good understanding of what he can do. He’s also a rookie. There’s a lot to learn. Same thing with Jericho. You have to realize we’re playing a lot of young guys. So there’s a whole group that are learning."
Thibodeau has been starting Alec Burks at point guard much of this season. Now it’s full-time since Kemba Walker was shut down for the remainder of the season and with Derrick Rose rehabilitating from two procedures on his ankle.
"I think the way the offense is run, anyone can play the point," Burks said. "I feel we’ve got a lot of positionless players. Thibs just has me doing it right now. It is what it is."
Immanuel Quickley has served as his backup although he, like Burks, is not a natural point guard. Thibodeau said McBride also fits in that category. "When you look at Deuce [McBride], there were really good minutes," he said. "Quick, the same thing. They’re probably combo guards. They can play well together. We’ll see how that unfolds.’’
Obi Toppin missed his second straight game with a strained left hamstring. Nerlens Noel was out with a sore left foot. Taj Gibson was a game-time decision as he was dealing with a non-COVID-19 illness.