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Quentin Grimes’ teammates blame themselves, Thibodeau asks for more

Brunson wants to involve Grimes more and Thibodeau wants Grimes to be more involved. Huh?

2023 NBA Playoffs - Miami Heat v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Turns out Quentin Grimes had been slow-cooking his venting for a minute.

According to multiple beat reporters quoting New York Knicks players daily and after every game they play, Grimes had been leaving the locker room before media members were allowed inside of those confines for a few games in the recent past.

Those echoing the information include Steve Popper of Newsday, Stefan Bondy of the New York Post, and Kristian Winfield of the Daily News.

Just for context (as if you needed it), Grimes finally stayed put in the locker room after the loss to the Bucks in the In-Season Tournament quarterfinals earlier this week, on Tuesday, revealing his frustrations once and for all in front of everybody willing to listen to it.

“It feels like if I don’t hit the shot, I’m coming out,” Grimes said after Tuesday’s game. Grimes attempted and missed his lone shot against the Bucks. He was benched in the third quarter and never came back.

“Every shot I shoot probably weighs like 100 pounds if I don’t make it,” added Grimes, “and our defense, it ain’t cutting it—so I know I ain’t going back in.”

According to Popper, “Grimes had been simmering for days,” with the shooting guard “leaving the postgame locker room before the door even opened to the media,” as well as “quickly exiting morning shootaround.”

Bondy reported that Grimes “was silent or hidden from the media for a few days amid his struggles,” adding that he noticed the Knicks player “had something to get off his chest.”

Added Bondy, “You could tell it had been gnawing at him, frustrating him. It had been brewing.”

After he finally released his thoughts, following Josh Hart’s approach to getting rid of his own frustrations before, Grimes’ teammates were quick to back the young man up and provide some hope for his improvement—by involving him more on offense—following Tuesday’s loss to the Bucks.

“My thoughts are—we could be better teammates when it comes to keeping a guy involved and making sure his confidence is still there,” Brunson said. “As teammates, we need to make sure [Grimes] confidence is there. The ball needs to find him a little more. I know when he has the ball in his hands, we’re really confident and have a lot of respect for him.”

A seasoned veteran, Brunson expanded on his comments adding “Eighty percent of this league is confidence. It’s all about how well you are prepared from a mental standpoint.”

According to Bondy, however, Brunson “declined to divulge” the content of his conversation with Grimes following Tuesday’s comments, but he confirmed they had a talk of sorts.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau was asked about Grimes’ comments as reporters already did when Hart’s situation came up before. Thibs simply stated “We got to get him to play better. It’s really that simple.”

Thibodeau went on to provide a much better explanation after that, handing out an example of someone that he thinks bounced back in the defeat against the Bucks. “The more easy baskets for anybody, the more confidence you get,” Thibodeau said. “I thought RJ did a really good job of that in the Milwaukee game, bouncing back, just getting out and running.

“In transition, everyone is the first option. If there’s a kick-ahead pass, you’re the first option. In a pick-and-roll, if you come off a pick-and-roll in transition, you’re the first option. If you’re posting up and the ball is thrown to you, you’re the first option,” the coach explained, seemingly calling out Grimes’ effort on those transitions and offering him a potential path to becoming more involved in the offense.

“You need easy baskets. You got to move off the ball. And I’d rather play faster, and be more unpredictable and creative on the weak side, which is one of the strengths of Josh and Donte,” added Thibs. “They both do that well.”

Josh and Donte are Hart and Divincenzo, who also happen to be the main backups for Grimes. A Grimes who must have been hearing the constant whispers and calls for Thibs to make a starting lineup change by sending QG to the pine and bringing in either DDV or JH in his place.

Bondy also wrote that Brunson didn’t want to offer any particular thoughts on how Hart and DiVo have performed when called upon, simply saying “both players have performed well.”

“It’s all about how you respond,” Brunson said. “I don’t really care for the narrative of this and that.

“But I do care that we have a good team and we have the right people around us and we stick together whatever the whole narrative of the situation.”

First test, tonight at 7:30 ET in Boston against the Celtics in the IST Consolation Game. Let’s get it popping.