The Knicks’ decision to shift shooting guard Arron Afflalo to a reserve role was not a punitive one, according to interim coach Kurt Rambis, Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. “This is not a punishment,” Rambis said of Afflalo’s demotion. “It’s more his natural position. All players want to start — I get that. I’m sure he’d rather be starting.” The team could be sending the veteran a message that if he chooses to exercise his player option for 2016/17, he will continue to come off the bench, Berman notes. The scribe also speculates that the team could be trying to reduce Afflalo’s market value as a free agent, thus making it easier to re-sign him.
Here’s more from New York:
- The Knicks are thinking about using the stretch provision to part ways with Jose Calderon this summer, and the chances of that occurring would be greatly increased if Tony Wroten shows promise in summer league play as he makes his way back from ACL surgery, Berman notes in the same piece. Waiving Calderon would allow the team to open approximately $5MM in extra cap space for this summer.
- Rookie Jerian Grant has replaced Langston Galloway as the first playmaker off the bench and has been working hard in practice to improve upon his woeful 19.7% shooting from three-point range, Berman adds. “[Grant] has been working on the shot all year,” Rambis said. “He knew it was something he had to work on to keep defenses honest. Hand placement. His balance. Just for younger players to learn to shoot from the NBA 3-point line. It’s different than college. He’s working hard on it. He knows it’s part of the game he has to get better.” The Post scribe also relays that the Knicks now view Galloway strictly as a shooting guard and believe that their efforts to convert him into a point guard have failed.
- A number of Tom Thibodeau‘s former players on the Bulls have noted the coach’s affinity for New York, and while they stopped short of saying the Knicks are his preferred destination, their comments seem to indicate that he would jump at the chance to coach the team, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes. “That’s all we talked about is the New York atmosphere and how he’s had tough-minded New York teams,” Taj Gibson told Bondy. “And that’s something we talked about all the time and that’s what we tried to incorporate the last couple of years. All-around, he’s a good guy. Almost every day we talked about his time in New York. We talked about them battles the Knicks used to have. Just talk about Knicks stuff in general. He loves New York. He always had high praise talking about the Knicks.”