The Knicks’ Development of Quentin Grimes Is as Much a Curse for New York as a Blessing

Not much has gone right for the New York Knicks this season. The Knicks (25-33) currently find themselves as the No. 12 seed in the Eastern Conference and failed to make any impact trades at the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline, in part because of unfriendly contracts and Julius Randle’s dwindling value. Heck, the Knicks can’t even really celebrate the growth of rookie Quentin Grimes.

The rookie out of the University of Houston has become a more important of New York’s rotation and looks like a part of the team’s future backcourt. But for every minute increase that Grimes sees, Cam Reddish’s window of opportunity shrinks. That’s not exactly good news for the Knicks, considering the price they paid to acquire Reddish from the Atlanta Hawks.

Quentin Grimes has become a bigger part of the Knicks’ rotation

Grimes spent the first couple of months struggling to merely get off the bench and log steady minutes. However, the rookie guard has received more consistent playing time since Christmas and even started each of New York’s last three games.

The 21-year-old seized his chance to make an impact, even as the Knicks suffered consecutive losses to the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively. He scored 20 points, pulled down four rebounds, and dished out three assists against the Blazers on Feb. 12. Grimes then scored 19 points with seven rebounds against the Thunder on Feb. 14.

The former Cougars star has been a capable floor-spacer, shooting nearly 40% from beyond the arc on 4.3 attempts per game. He’s also been a positive defensively, posting a 0.5 defensive box-plus minus thus far. Perhaps more importantly, Grimes makes the right reads on both ends and displays advanced playmaking chops.

Grimes’ assist numbers (2.0 per 36 minutes) hardly jump off the page. But he can run defenders off the three-point line and blow by closeouts off the dribble, getting into the lane and hitting Knicks teammates for open jumpers on the perimeter.

The budding playmaking chops are but one element of Grimes’ growth. He is a legitimate piece for New York next to RJ Barrett, whom LeBron James recently lauded as an up-and-coming star.

However, Grimes’ development also makes Cam Reddish’s role more complicated.

Cam Reddish has barely seen the floor in a Knicks uniform

When the Knicks acquired Reddish from the Hawks, he professed his belief that he could become a star. He’s hardly gotten the chance to grow in the Big Apple.

Reddish has played in just eight games since joining the Knicks. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has been reticent about handing him playing time and, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, didn’t want New York to acquire the young wing.

The Knicks tried to free up minutes for Reddish by showing a willingness to trade Alec Burks and Evan Fournier. However, New York couldn’t move off either player’s contract.

Now, with Grimes earning increased time and appealing to Thibodeau’s defensive sensibilities, it’s unknown where Reddish fits into the equation. He played just over seven minutes in Monday’s loss to the Thunder, and his current defensive limitations and inefficient shooting aren’t likely to ingratiate him to Thibodeau.

New York gave up a protected first-round pick to get Reddish, which is the more significant asset compared to Kevin Knox, whom the Knicks included in the deal after he never panned out in the Big Apple. Will that selection go to waste?

Has Grimes made Reddish even more expendable?

Quentin Grimes celebrates with New York Knicks teammates after a win over the Golden State Warriors in February 2022
New York Knicks players celebrate after a win against the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 10, 2022 | Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Should the Knicks continue to lose, Thibodeau might favor playing the young guys over his veterans. But there are still a limited number of minutes to allocate, and Grimes is a more likely beneficiary than Reddish.

Will New York trade Reddish in the offseason?

Fred Katz of The Athletic reported that the Knicks discussed Reddish in frameworks before the deadline. However, given New York just acquired him, it could not include other players in the deal. That changes this offseason, when the Knicks could try to package the 22-year-old with a veteran in potential trades.

At this point, it’s hard to envision Reddish forcing his way into the rotation, especially with Grimes in Thibodeau’s good graces. He might wish he ended up in Cleveland with the Cavaliers.

In any event, while Grimes’ progression is an inherent positive for New York, it’s also rendered the Reddish trade reasonably pointless.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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