On Saturday, the New York Knicks cleared three more players from the books: Brandon Knight, Aamir Simms, and M.J. Walker.
The roster is now set for the start of the 2021-2022 campaign. It’s deep with talent and has many Knicks fans salivating for a top-six seed going into the playoffs. Here’s who’s in and who’s out.
Kemba Walker PG
Evan Fournier SG
RJ Barrett SF
Julius Randle PF
Mitchell Robinson C
Derrick Rose PG
Immanuel Quickley SG/PG
Alex Burks SG/SF
Obi Toppin SF/PF
Nerlens Noel C
Taj Gibson C/PF
Quentin Grimes SG
Miles McBride PG
Kevin Knox II SF/PF
Wayne Selden, Jr SG
Luka Šamanić (Two-Way Contract)
Noteworthy roster inclusions:
Jericho Sims C
The 6’10”, 250lbs Sims could be a diamond in the rough. I’d wager that he will be Coach Thibodeau’s pet project, just as Joakim Noah (2014 Defensive Player of the Year) once was in Chicago.
With Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson out, Sims played extended minutes in the first two preseason games. He showed toughness in the paint, dunked a few lobs, and even sank a hook shot. But he blew too many defensive assignments, and Thibs shut him down midway through the third game, a victory over the Pistons.
The 58th pick in the 2021 draft is already physically well-developed for his age. Out of high school, ESPN ranked him 65th in the nation. The Minnesota native was recruited Auburn, Dayton, and many other schools before committing to Texas. He recorded several nice stats with the Longhorns. Sims seems bright and should be a quick study. Repetition and coaching should bring him up to speed. Whether he will reach the heights of Noah’s success remains to be seen.
Between Noel’s knee (still questionable), Robinson’s injury history, and Taj Gibson almost qualifying for AARP, the need for Sims to play might come sooner than later.
Wayne Selden, JR SG
The 6’5”, 230lbs former Jayhawk is a useful presence on the bench and in practice. He’s a seasoned pro, and Thibs is a fan:
The Knicks did not waive Wayne Selden Jr. by today’s 5 p.m. EST deadline, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA. Selden remains on the roster on a non-guaranteed contract. Tom Thibodeau has mentioned a couple of times how impressed he’s been with Selden behind the scenes.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) October 16, 2021
The former McDonald’s All-American was courted by Syracuse, Ohio, Florida, and others before committing to Kansas. Undrafted, he signed with the Grizzlies in 2016. Since then, he has bounced around a bit (Memphis, twice, New Orleans, & Chicago).
Selden played in real games—he averaged eight points and 23 min over 43 games with the 2018 Bulls. He raises the level of competition in scrimmages and could help to mentor the young guards.
Kevin Knox II SF/PF
What a wild ride it’s been for Mr. Knox. He was a featured guy in his rookie season, only to slide farther and farther down the bench with each successive year.
This preseason, Thibs has given Knox has a chance to show off his skills. His stroke from deep is good, and he made a few smart cuts to the basket. Defensively, however, he’s not up to the coach’s standards.
There’s debate about whether Knox is a better fit at SF or PF. As the role of power forward, he’s a useful reserve in case Julius and/or Obi need rest or get injured. But with Kevin’s poor defense, Taj may slide into that open 4 spot if the need is prolonged.
As Knox begins the last year of his rookie deal, the Knicks have a decision to make. Unless his contract is extended before the October 18 deadline, he will become a restricted free agent next summer. There’s good reason to expect the Knicks to extend him. His contract could be included in a package for a superstar down the line.
Brandon Knight and Brandon Goodwin were barely around long enough to get lockers. Good luck, fellas.
Aamir Simms F/C
AAmir Simms (6’8” 245 lbs) was a regrettable cut. In his final year at Clemson, he averaged 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists on 53.2% from the field in 24 games. He played well enough to log 11 minutes against the Pistons this preseason, subbing for the benched Jericho Sims. He didn’t necessarily distinguish himself but didn’t embarrass himself either. Here’s hoping he finds a spot on our G-League team.
I’ll miss having to check if he or Jericho is the guy with two Ms.
James Michael “M. J.” Walker Jr. SG
After Friday’s game, 6’ 5” Walker was the odd man out. The Florida State alum was last on the depth chart behind Evan Fournier, Alec Burks, and Quentin Grimes. On Friday, Grimes impressed in 21 minutes against the Wizards and earned enough trust for Thibs to play him at the end of a tie game. That performance might have been what finally wedged Walker out.
In his last season with FSU, Walker averaged 12.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 24 games. He shot 42.3% from deep, and 43.6% from the field. I hoped Walker might get G-League time. Perhaps he will.
Thoughts about who’s kept and who’s cut? Share them in the comment section.