Kemba Walker Went Off on Tom Thibodeau for Removing Him From Knicks’ Rotation: ‘I Hate It, I Know I Should Be Playing’

When the New York Knicks signed Kemba Walker in the offseason, they were hoping they solved their starting point guard problem. However, the All-Star’s homecoming was going so bad that Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau removed him from the rotation.

Walker was inactive for 10 consecutive games before playing against the Boston Celtics on December 18. Thibodeau was forced to play the New York native since Derrick Rose is out with an ankle sprain and Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, Obi Toppin, RJ Barrett, and Kevin Knox are in health and safety protocols.

The Knicks lost to the Celtics, but Walker scored 29 points in 37 minutes. He also went off on Thibodeau during his postgame press conference.

Kemba Walker, Tom Thibodeau haven’t spoken since benching

Walker told reporters that he hasn’t spoken with Thibodeau since being removed from the rotation. The four-time All-Star doesn’t know what his future holds, but he’s clearly frustrated with Thibodeau.

“I hate it. I want to play,” Walker said. “I don’t know what the future holds, you know? I do feel like I have a lot to give still. I don’t know. That’s up to these guys. I know I should be playing, so no question. It feels great. But whatever situation I’m in, I’m gonna stay locked in, stay prepared. Whatever the team needs from me, I’ll be there for them.”

Before playing against the Celtics, Walker was averaging 11.7 points and 3.1 assists for the Knicks while shooting 42.9% from the field and 41.3% from beyond the arc. Even after performing well against Boston, the UConn product has a plus-minus of -117 this season. It is believed that Thibodeau removed Walker due to Kemba’s inability to defend anyone.

It makes sense for Walker and the Knicks to part ways. However, it doesn’t appear Walker has any trade value around the NBA.

No one wants Kemba Walker

According to Matt Moore of the Action Network, there is no interest league-wide in taking on Walker. The veteran guard is suffering from a type of arthritis that will significantly impact the rest of his career, and teams are scared to take him on.

“There is no interest league-wide in taking on Kemba Walker according to multiple sources,” Moore wrote. “Walker was benched to try and kickstart the Knicks, a move that has failed, but the league consensus is that Walker’s knees represent too much of a risk even if his play with New York and Boston was more about situation.”

Walker could play again for the Knicks on December 21 against the Detroit Pistons since Rose is still recovering from an ankle injury and Quickley, Grimes, McBride, Toppin, Barrett, and Knox remain in health and safety protocols. Thibodeau told reporters he appreciates the frustration Walker has shown for what it’s worth.

“I have an appreciation for that,” Thibodeau said. “With all players, there’s gonna be frustrations. I have great respect for Kemba. I talk to the team every day, and then I talk to every player appropriately. That’s what a head coach’s job is. But I have an appreciation for frustration. … I have to do what I think is best for the team.”

This is clearly not how Walker envisioned his Knicks stint going, and the former Charlotte Hornets star isn’t the only one disappointed in Thibodeau. In fact, three-time Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford is also calling out Thibs.

Jamal Crawford called out Tom Thibodeau


Kemba Walker Makes Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks Look Foolish in His Return to the Court

Crawford backed up Walker on Twitter after the Knicks-Celtics game. He’s been upset ever since Thibodeau took Walker out of the rotation.

“Stop letting these coaches/teams create the narrative a player is done because THEY don’t like them,” Crawford said on Twitter.

Crawford actually played one season for Thibodeau on the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2017-18. It’s evident that he’s not a fan of what the Knicks coach is doing to Walker, who has seen his star status in the league dwindle due to injuries.

“It’s definitely been a rough couple years, to be honest,” Walker said. “When you get a chance to slow down and think about things, myself, I think it’s just some adversity. At some point in life, everyone goes through tough times. I’ve had a great career thus far, and a lot of things went my way. It’s a tough time right now, so it’s really about just showing my character, showing who I really am. I’m so mentally tough, I feel like I’m built for any situation, and I’m going to handle it the best I can.”

It doesn’t sound like Thibodeau will play Walker once Rose, Quickley, Grimes, McBride, Toppin, Barrett, and Knox return. With that said, the Knicks should cut the veteran and let him test the open market. There’s no point in holding him hostage on the bench.