clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Quentin Grimes, benched and “in line with the company message”

Quite a change in role, attitude, and production!

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Decision Day came on Friday.

Following a soft morning shootaround at TD Garden ahead of yesterday’s matchup—and defeat—at the hands of the Boston Celtics, Tom Thibodeau dropped the hammer and sent Quentin Grimes to the end of New York’s pine.

It’s the first time in more than a year that Grimes has not started a regular-season game since he last came off the bench as part of the Knicks' second unit back on Nov. 20, 2022.

And it’s hard not to agree with the coach’s decision whether you wanted the change to happen before Friday or judging by what we watched yesterday on Beantown’s hardwood.

As our own Kento already reported right after the game ended, “Grimes was very aggressive in looking for his shot, getting a couple of threes to go, and even got a tough transition layup to go as well, which gave the Knicks a 48–47 lead.” Not bad for a start!

Pun totally intended.

Sitting Grimes didn’t fix the Knicks' woes against top-tier contenders, mind you, as the lads went on to surrender all of 109 pops just through the third quarter of play. The C’s would extend that all the way to 133 on the day. Grimes’ presence in the starting (or closing, for that matter) five wouldn’t have changed the outcome that much.

But QG seemingly accepted his demotion happily, took advantage of the new environment, and kinda thrived—most definitely compared to his prior/recent past—in it.

“[Thibodeau] kind of let me know (about his placement in the second unit) to try to get me a better rhythm, get me in a better flow, try to get me how I was playing last year,” Grimes said after the game. “He felt like it was the best thing to do and I agree with him. It’s a good thing.

“I’ll definitely have the ball more, knowing I’m going to get more opportunities. It could be a better situation for me.”

By the final buzzer, Grimes had hoisted 10 shots (his most since Nov. 15, the day he suffered an injury at Atlanta), found the net on half of them, and scored 3-of-7 three-point attempts. He finished with 13 points (his most since Nov. 3 when he bagged 17), added a couple of assists and one rebound, and only committed a couple of turnovers in a bit over 19 minutes of run.

According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Post, Grimes “fell more in line with the company message,” in reference to sources revealing to the Post that Grimes “was talked to by at least one staff member about the importance of not throwing his coach under the bus.”

And so Grimes sounded ecstatic about coming off the pine on Friday, and praised his coach for making what the two-guard surely considered the absolute best decision...

“Whatever Thibs needs me to do to help the team win,” young good soldier Grimes said. “He felt like that was the best thing so I’m just doing whatever they need from me right now.”

Bondy also wrote in his story that “Thibodeau pushed to draft Grimes in 2021 and has been one of his biggest supporters,” for what’s worth.

The coach dodged the starting lineup proverbial bullet, as he usually does, simply mentioning “Who starts is probably not as important as who finishes,” adding that “Whatever we can do to get both groups (starters and reserves) functioning well, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Said Thibs: “You have to put the team first. So we got to get both units playing well together.”

Grimes escaped a 4-of-21 three-point shooting slump by bagging nearly as many such attempts on Friday as he had done in seven games combined after returning from injury.

QG started the fourth quarter and didn’t leave until the score was 122-112 when Julius Randle came off the bench to replace him with 4:08 remaining to play. The Knicks would make it an eight-point game with 1:06 left but never came closer than that.

Asked about whether or not his upcoming contract negotiations (Grimes will be eligible for a contract extension a la Quickley next summer), Grimes said, “Nah, you can’t think like that, too far ahead, because that can mess with your whole mental,” per Steve Popper of Newsday.

Grimes told reporters, “I’ve got a support cast around me, my family, to keep me grounded.

“Just go out there and do whatever I can to help the team win and everything will take care of itself.”

A win Grimes didn’t help the Knicks get but as long as he accepts the new role within the rotation and his numbers improve a bit, getting him into proper rhythm and perhaps, eventually, back to the starting five, everybody should be pleased with that.

One thing is obvious, however, and that’s this little thing we call defense not quite working when it comes to stopping elite basketball teams, the ones New York wants to one day fight against deep in May and into June, and not in meaningless In-Season Tournament Consolation games.

But that’s a story for another day...