The New York Knicks returned to practice Wednesday. They were without Kemba Walker, who announced today that he would shut down for the remainder of the season, but they had RJ Barrett (ankle) and Derrick Rose (ankle).
The return of Rose, who has missed the last two months after undergoing ankle surgery, prompted reporters to ask if he would be the one replacing Kemba in the starting lineup when the team returns to action Friday night. He coach Tom Thibodeau, as he is wont to do, seemed to indicate that he would be going with his old standby: returning Rose to the bench and starting Alec Burks at point guard.
Asked Thibodeau if Rose goes into lineup when available, he said Burks has been the best option. https://t.co/cIz4N29Fe4— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) February 23, 2022
If you want to be fair to Thibs, the lineup of Burks/RJ/Evan Fournier/Julius Randle/Mitchell Robinson does indeed have a positive net rating. It hasn’t led to wins, and I’d rather light myself on fire than watch Burks meander up the court and chuck yet another pull-up at the end of the shot clock, but the numbers do not lie! Knowing Thibs, he has likely decided that the Knicks simply weren’t relying on the right veterans, and that the Rose/Burks PG rotation will get the team back on track, if only Rose’s ankle can hold up.
RJ is also nursing a bum ankle, injured a few weeks ago when Thibs left him in a blowout loss in Denver. RJ might play on Friday, but it sure doesn’t sound like he’s 100%.
“Of course I feel something. I’m in pain. I am in pain,” Barrett said. “But just getting back into it; it’s gonna be sore. It’s gonna be sore. But trying to just be mentally tough to get through that. I can move. I can move a little bit, so like I said, being able to go out there and practice and scrimmage and really do that, it was a good sign. I have another one [Thursday], so just gonna continue to see how it feels.”
Keep in mind, folks: Most NBA projections have the Knicks around a 2% chance of making the playoffs. The upcoming schedule is brutal, and the squad lost 13 of their last 16. Maybe Rose alone fixes all that. Maybe RJ can Willis Reed Game 7 himself into playing for the next few weeks. Personally, I feel that Thibs — after proclaiming that “everything is on the table” before the All-Star break, is just falling back on his old vet-heavy rotations to play out the string, win or lose. And that sucks.