Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has already removed Kemba Walker from his rotation and more changes could be coming after Saturday’s embarrassing loss, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Thibodeau gave his players the day off Sunday to reflect on their recent downturn, and Popper suggests that the coach may also have needed time away to study his lineups and see how he can improve them.
“The thing is, if we’re not performing well, look, there may be more changes coming,” Thibodeau said. “That’s the thing . . . I like our group, I like the way they approach it. We all put our stuff together. We’ve got to focus together and we’ve got to work our way out of it together. That’s the way it is.”
The Knicks are starting a three-game road trip and Thibodeau told reporters that the changes may begin with Tuesday’s game in San Antonio, tweets Barbara Barker of Newsday. The most troubling concern, according to Popper, is that the team has lost the identity it had last season when it finished fourth in the East.
There’s more from New York City:
- Walker spoke to reporters today for the first time since the demotion (video link from SNY.tv). He admitted being surprised by the decision, but said he won’t become a negative influence in the locker room. “At the end of the day, there are some young guys here who look up to me,” Walker said. “Maybe I can be a role model. I love being around my teammates and I’m going to cheer them on until I can’t anymore.”
- The Knicks’ analytics department had an influential role in the signing of Walker, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman considers it to be a curious decision because Walker’s numbers on pick-and-roll efficiency, isolation efficiency and pull-up shooting last season were his worst of the past five years.
- James Harden ranks second in the league in assists after taking over the Nets‘ playmaking duties, but his shooting woes continued in Saturday’s loss to the Bulls, per Peter Botte of the New York Post. Harden shot just 5-of-21 from the field and is at a career-worst 40.3% through the first 23 games of the season. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer recommends that Harden work on developing a mid-range game.
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has strengthened the city’s vaccine mandate, which makes it less likely that Kyrie Irving will play for the Nets this season, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.