It sounds like Knicks guard Kemba Walker won’t see regular playing time unless he reclaims his starting job, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Walker, who was pulled from the rotation earlier this week, didn’t leave the bench in this afternoon’s loss to the Nuggets, even as New York fell behind by 30 points.
“As I mentioned before when I made that decision, I view Kemba as a starter,” coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. “… I do have respect for him, he’s part of the team. And right now we have a rotation, he’s not in the rotation but he’s working in practice, he’s doing all the things he should be doing.”
Walker, who hasn’t talked to the media since his demotion, has been a disappointment this season, even at the discount price of $18MM over two years. He’s scoring 11.7 points per game, down from 19.3 PPG last season with the Celtics, and his arthritic left knee limits his effectiveness on defense.
Neither Walker nor backcourt partner Evan Fournier has lived up to what the Knicks expected when they pursued them in free agency. Multiple sources tell Bondy that Thibodeau urged the front office to keep Reggie Bullock, who signed with Dallas for $30.5MM over three years.
There’s more from New York:
- Thibodeau believes RJ Barrett needs more repetition to fix his three-point shot, Bondy adds. After connecting at 40.1% from beyond the arc last season, Barrett has slumped to 32.1%. “You get rhythm when you work and last year he got going when he started coming in every night to shoot,” Thibodeau said. “So there’s no notion of, ‘OK, I’ll do it sometimes.’ No, you got to do it all the time. When you did it, you shot 40 from 3. So get back in the gym, get back to improving your shot.”
- At 11-12, the Knicks are now under .500 for the first time this season, and Julius Randle believes the team has lost the defensive identity that it relied on last year, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “It’s who we are as a team, how we built this team and this culture is just fighting defensively, the togetherness, just the effort, the hustle plays,” Randle said. “I feel like that’s what the city of New York loves. That’s what the fans love — when they know we’re out there giving it our all. And I think sometimes we’re too lax.’’
- Fournier talks about Thibodeau, some of his new teammates and several other subjects in a wide-ranging interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post.