As the Knicks begin to return players to the rotation there will be decisions to be made and for Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau it won’t be easy ones.
In the absence of Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose and an assortment of other players at different times to injury and illness, rookie Quentin Grimes got a chance and has earned the respect of Thibodeau. But Walker is back and the Knicks have added a wing to the roster in Cam Reddish, who will be ready soon after healing a sprained ankle.
"Grimes has been playing great basketball," Thibodeau said. "But it’s just step by step. You earn your minutes here. What you do in practice. You have to wait for your opportunity and when your opportunity comes, be ready to go.
"But as I mentioned to you guys before, there's a finite amount of minutes. There’s 240 minutes. And so the guys who are performing well and getting the job done, they're in there. Whoever gives us the best chance to win, that’s who we go with and no one individual’s development is more important than another individual's development. So we’re always going to do what’s best for the team."
After his own bout with COVID, Grimes has played in 12 straight games entering Tuesday night and is averaging 20.5 minutes per game in that span, averaging 6.7 points per game and shooting 35.6% from beyond the arc. On the season he has averaged 14.2 minutes per game in 26 appearances — including two starts — and has connected on 39.6% from three. Thibodeau points to his shooting and his defense as reasons he has earned his minutes.
"His shot profile was the biggest thing that made him attractive to us," he said. "We need that. We needed the three-point shooting. That was huge. It’s an ongoing thing for us. When you factor in his competitiveness and his defense — he’s guarded everyone the last five games. He’s a fierce competitor. That’s what makes him so valuable to us. You see, he knows how to guard people."
T-Wolves coach loves Randle
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch served as an assistant coach in New Orleans when Julius Randle played there before signing with the Knicks.
"Loved Julius. Really enjoyed working with him," Finch said. "Worked hard. He scored well for us. We kind of used him as a playmaker a little bit more. Here, he carries the burden of being an on-demand scorer, which is very much how he likes to play anyway. But I was always impressed with his complete overall offensive game. He’s probably the most physical offensive player in the league. Him and Zion [Williamson] are the players where it’s like hit first and just bounce off you and just keep coming."