New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed that he had removed struggling point guard Kemba Walker from the team’s rotation. This comes after a 3-11 start to the season, which has seen consecutive losses in seven of their last 10 games. While Walker is a great player and one of Charlotte Hornets most popular players, it was clear his time with New York would be very limited this year..
Coach Tom Thibodeau has removed struggling Kemba Walker from the New York Knicks’ rotation. The move is a part of a larger strategy to improve the team’s performance.
2:52 p.m. Eastern
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
Coach Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks said Monday afternoon that guard Kemba Walker would be removed from the team’s starting lineup, as well as the rotation as a whole, beginning with Tuesday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
“It’s a difficult choice to make,” Thibodeau said after practice Monday, “but you always have to do what you believe is best for the team.” “I think of Kemba as a starter, so playing three tiny guards together would be difficult.” I thought about it, and I admire Kemba Walker as a person and for all he’s done in the NBA.
“However, I must do what I believe is best for the team.”
Thibodeau elected to sit Walker in favor of Alec Burks in this scenario. Walker, a four-time All-Star and New York City basketball star, was bought out by the Oklahoma City Thunder after a trade from the Boston Celtics this past summer and came home on a two-year, $20 million contract.
Thibodeau has decided to start Burks in the starting five moving forward after seeing him score 23 points in 39 minutes in Saturday’s win over the Hawks in Atlanta — a game Walker didn’t play in after scoring 17 points in New York’s loss to the Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden the night before.
“I’d want to make the rotation tighter. I enjoyed how the squad worked together, so we’ll do something similar to what we did in the Atlanta game.”
Walker, 31, is posting career lows in points (11.1), rebounds (2.6), assists (3.1), field goal attempts per game (9.8), and minutes played per game (9.8). (24.5). After a strong start to the season, he has slowed significantly, averaging 10 points on 39 percent shooting overall and 29 percent from 3-point range through 12 games in November.
In the meanwhile, New York’s starting lineup has been a disaster. The team’s normal starting lineup — Walker, Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson — was the NBA’s most-used five-man group entering Monday night’s play, averaging 287 minutes. In those minutes, it has also been outscored by 15.6 points per 100 possessions, and it has the NBA’s lowest defensive rating (118.9). Individually, the Knicks are outscored by 13 points per 100 possessions while Walker is on the field, and outscored by 11 points per 100 possessions when he isn’t.
Walker spent the last two seasons in Boston after signing a four-year max contract with the Celtics in 2019 to replace Kyrie Irving, who departed to sign his own max deal with the Nets. Walker struggled with knee issues last season, missing 29 games in the regular season and the final two games of Boston’s five-game loss to Brooklyn in the first round. After making the All-Star team his first season and helping Boston reach the Eastern Conference finals with strong play in series victories over the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors along the way, Walker struggled with knee issues last season, missing 29 games in the regular season and the final two games of Boston’s five-game loss to Brooklyn in the first round.
Former coach Brad Stevens elected to sell Walker to the Thunder, along with the No. 16 selection in the NBA draft, in his first major move as president of the team, in order to bring center Al Horford back to Boston. Horford has effortlessly integrated into Boston’s lineup, especially with starting center Robert Williams missing numerous games early in the season due to different ailments.
Walker, on the other hand, finally agreed to a buyout with the Thunder, enabling him to return to his birthplace of New York and play a limited role with the club. Thibodeau decided Monday to take things a step further after being benched down the stretch along with other players of the starting lineup numerous times in recent weeks as New York’s bench has routinely surpassed it.
The Knicks are now 11-9, placing them in the thick of the Eastern Conference’s close race for first place. New York trails the East-leading Nets by three games and is one game ahead of the 76ers in 11th place.
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