This is not funny, not at all.
Almost a year ago, we Knicks fans found ourselves in a very similar situation to the one going on barely a week from the regular season’s tip-off.
Back then, on Oct. 18th, 2022, the New York Knicks listed Quentin Grimes in their first injury report of the year, right ahead of the season opener to be played one day later. We told you about it. (S/o Joe Flynn!)
Joe smartly included a sharp sentence in his piece of news coverage. “A few eagle-eyed fans caught a glimpse of Grimes wearing a walking boot in photos of training camp practices.”
Then, Joe added the Knicks “admitted Grimes was dealing with a sore foot,” which the franchise hadn’t done before those fans burned endless Twitter feeds with kindly shared but closely analyzed pics of Grimes sporting the boot. The Knicks simply had no option.
Mere hours before the first game of the season, they couldn’t hide anything anymore as they were forced into submitting the official report to the league offices.
Grimes, however, had played in preseason games even though he did so with a mangled foot. Grimes went on to miss (inactive) the first six games of the season, played 19 minutes combined in the next two, missed two more, appeared in three after that logging 19 more minutes total, missed a couple while dressed and sitting on the bench, and finally return to never left the rotation again on Nov. 18th.
The Knicks gambled, preseasoned Grimes, and paid big time.
The Knicks, at this very moment, might be doing the opposite with Josh Hart... while still trying to hide a more severe injury or problem than the one they’re pitching to the free world: Hart just needs some good ol’ plain rest.
True or false, Hart finally spoke for the first time after he did so back on Media Day at the start of last week, and also since he missed the Knicks preseason opener last Tuesday and following Thursday’s practice.
If anything, Hart let us all know he’s a good speech learner.
“I feel solid,” Hart said, as quoted by Zach Braziller of the New York Post (funny note: check NYP’s headline—Hart insists he is healthy). “Working on ramping up and making sure I’m ready when the time comes.”
Asked about his absence, he simply said “it just was a long summer,” reasoning that he played in the postseason, then in the FIBA World Cup, and that all of that added to a load he had never before gone through.
“Body wasn’t used to all of that load in a year,” Hart said. “I’m just working my way back.”
All Thibs said on Thursday is that Hart “did a little bit of practice,” and with it featuring little contact, Hart was “able to do most of that.”
The coach finished his statements by saying “We just want to make sure he’s as healthy as possible, so most of the stuff we’re doing with him is more precautionary than anything else.”
Then, Friday, Oct. 13th arrived. And with it another practice, and another press conference to address the franchise ongoing. And of course, the Knicks and Thibs have clearly started to feel the heat and the questions that folks like us and everybody else are starting to ask.
Is there anything more than just some good ol’ plain rest?
Per Steve Popper of Newsday, Thibs “wouldn’t specify” a Josh Hart injury. The coach left it at “he’s nicked up.”
Stefan Bondy of the New York Post reported a few minutes after another answer by Thibs, who added “[Hart] will probably play a little bit” against the Timberwolves on Saturday. “That’d be my guess,” Thibs said.
Thibodeau added: "He'll probably play a little bit, that will be my guess." https://t.co/oBOvTg86NZ— Stefan Bondy (@SbondyNBA) October 13, 2023
At the end of the day, we can’t do much more than believe what Hart and Thibs are selling, then check if the facts size up to what happens come gametime, and go from there.
The Hart situation started to feel a little smelly a few days ago, that stench got stronger last Tuesday, it’s gotten worse on Thursday and Friday, and we are now fearing a rotten fish is about to be tracked by a bunch of furious Wolves and get found at the bottom of the Knicks trash tank on Saturday.
There is nothing wrong with that, mind you!
Grimes played and got screwed for a month. Hart can avoid that fate. He might actually be right in saying he needs some rest. And if that’s the case, that’s cool too.
Just accept it, let everybody know, and confirm there’s a bigger problem publicly now instead of 12 hours before Oct. 24th. Get Hart ready to play, give him proper care, and avoid the drama and the speculation the situation generates where there should be none of it.