We hadn’t heard too many tremors on the New York side, and it had to thunder at one point or another. Unable to find a regular formula that works in the 5 major, the Knicks and Tom Thibodeau made a radical decision: goodbye Kemba Walker, you’re still in the squad but you’re out of the rotation for the moment.
It is one of the subjects which made the most talk about this start of the season in the NBA.
Beyond BING BANG, viral videos and crazy fans, the Knicks were so-so after almost 6 weeks of competition. Memorable evenings, of course, like the victories in Philadelphia, Milwaukee or against Boston, but never the feeling of really finding the right equation. Never three days in a row without sighing, without a pissing result, without a head caught in two hands. It’s simple, apart from the 5 victories in the first 6 games of the season, the soldiers of New York have chained victory, defeat, victory, defeat, victory then defeat, without taking any real direction. A rather unbearable soft stomach for this team and this management whose ambitions are enormous, as last season and the ensuing offseason have shown. We keep the same group, we extend the frames, and we add to that important pieces like Evan Fournier or Kemba Walker? If for the first the performances were in the image of the Knicks, therefore alternating between the good and the unpleasant, the second did not have the imagined impact at all and it was Tom Thibodeau who decided to say stop to the forcing. Tired of this major 5 which does not work over time and which puts pressure on the bench, we stop the costs and Kemba Walker comes out of the five. From there to say … total exit from the rotation? There is obviously a part of stupor in the announcement that fell on Monday, because it is as if Kemba had become a nuisance in a group, which has never been the case in his career on the contrary, or as if the former Hornet could no longer take a shot, which is not really the case since he offers among his best career percentages at the start of the season (41% at three points, 5 shots from long distance taken per game). But then what happens? Walker injured?
A statistical summary of why the Knicks are pulling Kemba Walker from the rotation:
Knicks have the best defense in the league when he’s on the bench (99.0 DRtg) & are dead last (116.3 DRtg) when he’s on the floor.
They are 27th in offense with him playing, 9th with him off.
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) November 29, 2021
We will know, in the days to come, the reasons for such a decision. The discomfort is palpable, so a decision had to be made and Tom Thibodeau decided to go for it by pressing his two fingers on the big red button. However, we must see what explains this choice. Physically, Kemba no longer gives the impression of being the slasher of yesteryear. Celtics-leading Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens had spoken about it before the start of the 2020-21 season and the duo said it would be a subject to watch closely throughout the campaign. What did it give, this observation? And many knees in shambles, and a transfer against Al Horford who finds his best colors in the green jersey. While Walker, sent to OKC, was released by the Thunder who probably sensed the wrong plan was coming. The Knicks logically positioned themselves on Kemba, them who needed experience, ball-in-hand creation and scoring to help Julius Randle, and all was well by the time of signing. We even had a sentimental bonus when we saw Walker return to Madison Square Garden, this boy born in the Bronx and who had dreamed of playing in this room with the Knicks jersey all his life. Unfortunately the love story lasted only a few weeks, and it will be necessary to watch closely for the reaction of Kemba and the results in New York. Because the main objective remains there, and Thibodeau struck it in a press conference this Monday evening: to do what it takes for the team to work, whether it likes it or not. With all the respect you can have towards the dragster, you have to know how to recognize when it doesn’t work. For the moment, as a holder, that has not worked. Will we be reinstated after leaving the bench? Must see, because Thibs mentioned this gambling problem to three little ones, with Derrick Rose, Kemba Walker and Immanuel Quickley when it is not Alec Burks (the latter will be the new holder from now). And defensively, it is clear that despite the force passages caused here and there by Kemba, his presence does not really guarantee a collective defensive lock. It’s just sad and shocking to get there so quickly, but the New York coaching staff have clear, ambitious goals, and nothing can stop them from meeting them. Not even the return to the neighborhood of a great player, who could have made Madison Square Garden shine.
On the eve of a huge derby against the Nets, Tom Thibodeau hits hard by removing Kemba Walker from the rotation. A sign of a future transfer, of internal news that will soon be revealed or of a future reinstatement after leaving the bench? Take out the popcorn, because it’s going to be sweet in the next few days in New York.
Source : The Athletic