Knicks Notes: Sims, Achiuwa, Anunoby, McBride, Hartenstein, Roster Openings

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau made a change to his frontcourt rotation on Saturday, using Jericho Sims as his primary backup center ahead of Precious Achiuwa, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Thibodeau expressed a need for more “physicality” after his team got pushed around in Thursday’s loss at Denver.

“Whoever’s got it going, that’s where we’re going,” Thibodeau said. “Some nights it’s not your night, it’s someone else’s night and then you put the team first. Everyone sacrifices. And that’s really what we’ve done all year.” 

Sims didn’t score, but he boosted the defense and grabbed seven rebounds in his 18 minutes of action. Achiuwa played just eight minutes, his fewest since January 17. Bondy notes that Achiuwa was used as the starting power forward the last time OG Anunoby was injured. Over the past three games, Thibodeau has moved Josh Hart to that position and inserted Miles McBride into the starting lineup. Thibodeau told reporters that he still has “a lot of confidence” in Achiuwa and indicated that the reduction in playing time may be temporary.

“He’s done a great job for us,” Thibodeau said. “I love the fact that he can play two positions. I think he can guard multiple positions. It allows you to do a lot of switching. So it was more the matchup of, OK, who are we looking at in the Golden State game? We’re looking at (Stephen) Curry (necessitating McBride to be in the lineup to chase him around). And then with Brooklyn, you’re looking at Cam Thomas, who has been rolling.” 

There’s more from New York:

  • Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle both worked out before the game, but Anunoby wasn’t seen on the court or in the locker room after reporters were granted access, Bondy adds. There’s no word on whether the soreness in his surgically repaired elbow has eased enough to allow him to practice. “It’s hard to say,” Thibodeau said. “I haven’t seen him. He’s doing better so just let it calm down and go from there.”
  • McBride’s 48-minute marathon on Saturday marked the sixth time he has topped the 40-minute mark since signing an extension in late December, per Bridget Reilly of The New York Post. McBride said he tried not to look at the Knicks’ bench during Saturday’s game so he wouldn’t give any indication that he wanted to come out. “Honestly, it’s mental,” he said. “Just telling myself to keep pushing through, give everything I’ve got in order to get the win.” 
  • Isaiah Hartenstein credits Thibodeau and the Knicks’ medical staff for helping him ease back into the lineup while dealing with Achilles soreness, per Ian Begley of SNY (video link).
  • New York has two roster openings after 10-day contracts expired on Saturday for Mamadi Diakite and DaQuan Jeffries, notes Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter links). Diakite is eligible for another 10-day deal, but Jeffries would have to be signed for the rest of the season if the Knicks want to keep him.
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