Josh Hart‘s competitive fire was on display Saturday night in his first game with the Knicks, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Calling himself “a dog” in post-game interviews, Hart brought the defensive intensity the team was counting on when it acquired him Thursday in a four-team trade.
Hart delivered 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in 26 minutes. He played the entire fourth quarter, sinking a late three-pointer to help stave off a Jazz rally, and appears to be a new fan favorite at Madison Square Garden.
“I’m a guy that’s gonna bring it every night,” he said. “I’m a guy that’s gonna be physical. I’m a guy that’s gonna do the dirty work. Going to rebound, going to defend. Get on the floor for a loose ball and do those kind of things. I feel like that style fits every team, especially a New York team. That’s what this city is about and what the city builds off of. I take that with pride. I’m just a blue-collar guy; I think that’s really going to work well here.”
There’s more on the Knicks:
- Hart is expected to turn down his $13MM player option and become a free agent this summer, Bondy adds in a separate story. The Knicks have a few months to decide whether to make a long-term commitment to the 27-year-old guard, but with team president Leon Rose having served as Hart’s agent at CAA, a strong connection is already in place. “It’s definitely somewhere that I would definitely like to be,” Hart said of New York. “It’s my third time getting traded, sixth year in the league, fourth team, sixth head coach. It’s been a whirlwind. I didn’t think that was how my first six years were going to be, but I’m looking for a home, and I think this could be it.”
- Hart’s arrival may mean reduced roles for Miles McBride and Quentin Grimes, observes Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. McBride didn’t play at all Saturday, while Grimes was limited to 22 minutes and wasn’t used in the fourth quarter. McBride had played in the last 35 games and had been part of the rotation since early December. “Those things are tough, but you always have to do what’s best for the team,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “What makes the team function best, and we’ll go from there.”
- Jalen Brunson turned in his latest huge scoring performance since being snubbed for the All-Star Game, Sanchez notes in a separate piece. Brunson has averaged 31 PPG in the five games since the All-Star reserves were announced.