Before the Knicks took over Cam Reddish from the Hawks for Kevin Knox and garnered a protected first round on Thursday, Atlanta reportedly asked for Quentin Grimes.
But given the way coach Tom Thibodeau spoke glowingly about Grimes on Friday, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the Knicks were unwilling to part with the rookie.
“I like Grimes. I love Grimes,” said Thibodeau after practice on Friday. “He is a fierce competitor, can shoot the ball, can guard multiple positions and he will only get better. Look at his photo profile, it was great in college. It was great with the pros. So that’s an important part of winning. Then to see how he guards people, his competitiveness, that stands out.”
Grimes has appeared in 24 games this season, including two starts, averaging 4.9 points and hitting 38.4 percent from a 3-point range in 13.7 minutes. But the Knicks’ recent COVID-19 and injury issues have opened the door for him to see more opportunities, and he’s taken advantage.
In his past 10 games — in which the Knicks finished 7-3 — Grimes averaged 6.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and one steal in 21.1 minutes.
While Reddish won’t play right away due to a sprained ankle, it remains to be seen if his arrival will force anyone out of the rotation.
Thibodeau admitted this was likely to happen if Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose return from injuries, but he did say he liked how the current rotation played out.
“The group that is playing now is playing well,” said Thibodeau. “So we want to keep it that way.”
Walker, who has missed the last seven games with pain in his left knee, is “questionable” to play against the Hawks on Saturday, Thibodeau said.
Before tackling the Reddish takeover, Thibodeau made sure to give props to Knox, whose disappointing Knicks tenure ended after more than three seasons.
“Kevin has done a good job for us,” said Thibodeau. “I have a lot of respect for him and his professionalism, the way he treated himself and of course we wish him the best of luck.”
Asked if he’d heard from former Duke teammates since the reddish trade went down — Zion Williamson notably joined them to form a Big 3 for the 2018-2019 Blue Devils — RJ Barrett said with a grin: We’ll keep that in-house,” they may want to avoid any hint of tampering.