When Sixth Man of the 12 months candidate Alec Burks was positioned in COVID-19 protocols earlier than the Knicks performed in Dallas on April 16, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau mentioned he had two gamers who might fill the void: combo guard Frank Ntilikina and combo ahead Kevin Knox.
Ntilikina and Knox occur to be the Knicks’ lottery picks from 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Even with Burks out, Thibodeau had little use for the 2 prospects. Within the six video games coming into the homestand finale versus the Bulls on Wednesday evening, Knox appeared in three of the video games for 14 minutes. Ntilikina appeared in three video games for eight minutes, together with a two-second stint in opposition to the Hawks.
In the course of the earlier two video games, each gamers had been handed over as Thibodeau shrank his rotation to 9 males. Knox, in his third season, has been out of the rotation since late January. He has appeared in 39 video games — a lot of them in rubbish time.
Based on an NBA supply, Knox didn’t present sufficient motor for Thibodeau’s liking and the coach is just not into ready on gamers when his objective this pandemic season was playoffs. Knox has one yr left on his rookie pact and might be commerce bait this offseason — if there’s a lot worth left.
On this Zoom period, during which reporters aren’t permitted within the locker room to talk to gamers as they need, Knox hasn’t talked to the press since Feb. 3.
It doesn’t appear like it should get higher for both Knox or Ntilikina now that Burks has been faraway from COVID-19 quarantine. Burks might play Sunday in Houston at the beginning of the six-game Western journey.
Ntilikina, the Frenchman drafted to play the triangle, might be a restricted free agent this August. The best way Thibodeau has stored him on the perimeter this season signifies he’s doubtless a goner.
When Thibodeau talks concerning the lottery duo, he’s fast to reward how skilled they’ve been regardless of being on the skin trying in. Certainly, the duo are a key a part of the Knicks’ animated bench patrol.
“They’re nice teammates,’’ RJ Barrett mentioned. “Frank is one in all my closest pals. … They’ve been nice teammates as properly. They work extraordinarily exhausting. I simply noticed Kevin on the market on the courtroom dripping in sweat getting the work in. Once they’ve gotten their alternative they’ve completed extraordinarily properly.’’
Certainly, Knox has shot 39.1 p.c from 3-point land, however he wasn’t sufficient of a two-way participant for Thibodeau’s quick rotation.
Assistant coach Kenny Payne has not completed properly with all his Kentucky guys as Knox did not develop the best way Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley did.
Watching Suns small ahead Mikal Bridges burn the Knicks late in Monday’s recreation, ending with 22 factors, was simply salt to the Knox wound. The Knicks handed on each Miles Bridges (who went to Charlotte) and Mikal Bridges within the 2018 draft.
“One factor about these guys is that they’re coming in daily, they’re one of many first guys within the fitness center,’’ Taj Gibson mentioned. “At evening, after I come again in at evening, they’re one of many first faces I see within the fitness center at evening. They’re at all times prepared. They do regardless of the crew wants. However make no mistake, Frank is available in many occasions late in video games and helped us win video games. Kev is similar. Kev is prepared. Frank is prepared. If something occurs these guys are able to step up.’’