When he finished off the season just a few months ago, Miles McBride was finally getting his opportunity, more than the sparse minutes that had marked most of the season. And as the summer began he could think about what was to come.
Alec Burks, who had started much of the season, was being shipped out in a salary-cap clearing move. Derrick Rose, who had missed much of last season with an ankle injury, was a question mark. So McBride could imagine opportunities to come.
But the Knicks pulled off the free agent pursuit they’d planned — landing Jalen Brunson on a four-year, $104 million deal . Rose is healthy again. And rumors are flying around the NBA that the Knicks could be suitors for Donovan Mitchell.
And McBride was on the court at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas doing what he has done since being drafted in the second round last summer by the Knicks — working.
"Confidence can’t waver, not in this league," McBride said. "If that happens then you’re going to be stuck in the mud. So I’m always trying to stay as confident as I can."
As the Knicks began the Summer League with a pair of one-sided wins, last season’s rookie class — McBride, Quentin Grimes and Jericho Sims — have put on a display of defense that had coach Tom Thibodeau smiling as he watched from the sideline as an observer.
The Knicks beat Golden State, 101-88, in their first game and then topped that by beating the Chicago Bulls Sunday, 101-69. They held the Bulls without a field goal for more than seven minutes to start the game. When the Knicks lost Monday night they still held Portland without a field goal for more than five minutes at the start.
“That’s the plan on defense, not allow them to score,” McBride said earnestly, as if he believed that someday they could shut out a team completely. “The fact we went seven minutes, that’s the plan. Good job.”
The Knicks don’t have the sort of glamorous attraction in the summer that some teams do — a highly-touted lottery pick. McBride and Sims were second-round picks a year ago, Grimes was a late first-rounder and the other starters also were not on the top of anyone’s wish list. Trevor Keels was a second-round pick this summer and Feron Hunt was undrafted, spending last season with three different NBA organizations and spending most of his time in the G League.
McBride has led the defense with his 94-foot defensive pressure, a trait that he brought with him into the NBA and what sources have said got Thibodeau to push for the Knicks to draft him [as well as Grimes].
However, McBride knows there are no guarantees. “Win, that’s my only personal goal,” he said. “Doing whatever I can to get on the floor, whether that means making shots, bringing the ball up, finding the open man, playing defense, I’m doing anything I can to get on the floor.”
Dice Yoshimoto, who is serving as the Knicks’ summer league coach, said of McBride’s play, “On defense, man, he set the tone on defense. And offensively, I want him to continue to get the offense organized, get us organized and just see whatever he sees. I think he’s done a great job today and I want him to continue to get better.
“I want him to continue to grow. Last year, too, he played the one and he played the two, some off the ball. And we have another point guard that can play on the ball. … But overall, he’s done a great job. I want him to continue to do that.”