Detroit Pistons guard Quentin Grimes dunks during the first half...

Detroit Pistons guard Quentin Grimes dunks during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, in Detroit. Credit: AP/Carlos Osorio

It was a detour for Quentin Grimes, heading to the visitors’ locker room rather than the Knicks’. And it has been a detour south in the standings, as he was dealt from a team with championship aspirations to the Pistons, who brought an 8-48 record into Monday’s game at Madison Square Garden.

But Grimes has no ill will toward the Knicks, even with how his tenure with them ended. He has high hopes for what he — and the Pistons — can become.

Pistons coach Monty Williams, who worked alongside Tom Thibodeau with Team USA for four years, feels the same way Thibodeau did when he pushed the Knicks to draft Grimes. He has the same belief about what Grimes can become — and Grimes sees similarities that the record doesn’t reflect.

“Definitely, the record isn’t an indicator of what the team is overall,” he said. “The energy, the cohesiveness of the unit, the guys, the organization as a whole. Talking to Monty when I got here, talking about where he sees me on the court when I first got there and was injured. You can definitely tell his winning mentality. He’s been to the [NBA] Finals, the way he teaches.”

Grimes arrived in New York for Monday night’s game as an active participant after sitting out his final week with the Knicks and until Saturday with a sprained knee. He was happy to be back to what he said was 100% and ready to play against his former team.

Not long ago, it would have been a difficult situation for him to imagine. The Knicks quickly pushed him into the starting lineup and he emerged as their best perimeter defender and a dangerous shooter. Now, at 23, he is on to a new team, learning a lesson about how it can all change in an instant.

“That’s the NBA, how things go,” Grimes said. “I knew coming in, having Josh [Hart] for the whole year, bringing in Donte [DiVincenzo], last year RJ [Barrett] and Jalen [Brunson] missing time, I was able to take a lot of the load. It was kind of one of those things; you’ve got a lot of good players on the team and you’ve got to find minutes for them. It was one of those things, but I feel like everything worked out in the end and it’s going to work out for the best. Everything happens for a reason. I don’t worry about that too much for sure.”

“Both are great guys,” Thibodeau said of Grimes and Evan Fournier, who also was part of the Feb. 8 trade. “I’m happy for them. They did a great job for us. It’s a new opportunity, it’s sort of the nature of our league. I have great respect for both those guys. Wish them well except when they play against us.”

Grimes is just working his way into the lineup, but Williams has some of the aspirations for him that Thibodeau had.

“Same things you saw here,” Williams said of his early impressions of Grimes. “Toughness, shot-making for sure. We feel like he can do more as far as handling the ball and making plays. That’s something we want to explore. I value guys that come from programs like Houston. Compared to Coach [Kelvin] Sampson, I’m like a walk in the park. He reminds me of my high school coach — I was terrified going to practice every day, but it made me a better player.

“He’s someone, as he gets used to how we play, gets some of the goofy play calls and signals, he’s going to be a lot more comfortable with us. I just want him to relax and play his game so he can expand the system we have.”

Grimes won’t be in the playoffs this season, so his postseason moment remains Game 5 at the Garden on May 10. With the Knicks facing elimination, he took a hit from Bam Adebayo on a screen, injured his knee, got up, limped back into the play and stole the ball from Jimmy Butler.

“Yeah, knowing that was my first time in the playoffs, knowing that was an elimination game, a must-win game or we go home,” he said. “Being able to get back up and no matter if my leg fell off or something like that, I still had to get the stop. It was pretty cool to have that moment here forever.”

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