It’s been a long three months since the Knicks last played basketball, and another long three months until they play again.
At least we have Summer League in the middle.
For the Knicks, much of the intrigue dissolved when they traded their 11th overall pick last month. They flirted with dealing up to draft Jaden Ivey, who instead went to the team — the Detroit Pistons — who will be the top attraction in Vegas with Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren, Killian Hayes and the Boeheim brothers also on the roster.
But there will be storylines and developments to follow for Tom Thibodeau’s squad, with the top four detailed below:
Last year became a showcase for Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, who both demonstrated their offseason growth and uptick in confidence while averaging over 20 points per game. That ultimately carried over to the NBA season, even if took a few months for Quickley to get rolling.
The 2022 Summer League Knicks should be Grimes Time. The 25th overall pick in 2021 flashed two-way potential and became a favorite of Thibodeau, starting six games before a knee injury derailed his final six weeks. Grimes was better than his modest average of six points on 40.4% shooting. It’s not ridiculous to think he’ll be in contention for the starting shooting guard spot this season, especially with Jalen Brunson now in the backcourt. Brunson, like Evan Fournier, struggles defensively and might be a better fit with Grimes.
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Summer League is an opportunity for Grimes, 22, to show what he can do with the ball. He’ll be a featured offensive player in Vegas.
Assuming the Knicks roster is finished, or close to finished, there won’t be much playing time available for point guard Miles McBride and center Jericho Sims. Especially McBride.
Kemba Walker is gone but he didn’t play much last season anyway. Brunson is arriving and Derrick Rose is returning. There’s also Fournier, RJ Barrett and Quickley eating up minutes in the guard spots. It’s a tough spot for McBride and Summer League won’t determine his rotation spot, but it’s an opportunity to again drum up excitement for his potential. He became a fan favorite despite limited opportunities, which was at least partially due to the Knicks’ messy situation at point guard. McBride was a monster against Summer League levels of competition while averaging 27.8 points and 10.8 assists in six G League appearances.
Sims’ situation is a little different. The Knicks traded one center but signed another, Isaiah Hartenstein, while committing big money to Mitchell Robinson to be their center of the present and future. We still don’t know the fate of Taj Gibson, but, at best on paper, Sims will be the second backup. He’s also a strong candidate for a standard NBA contract after playing last season on a two-way deal, lending a little more importance to Summer League if he’s not signed before the opener Friday.
The Knicks traded their first rounder this year but used their 42nd pick on Trevor Keels, a guard from Duke who disappointed in his lone college season but was a five-star recruit in high school. Like with McBride, there isn’t much room in the Knicks rotation for a young guard and it’s easy to see Keels playing in the G League as a rookie. But we haven’t seen him as a pro yet and Friday against the Warriors will be our first glimpse.
There are always a couple players who impress enough in Summer League to earn a training-camp invite, which rarely, but sometimes, turns into a roster spot. Regardless, a strong performance places that player on the radar of not only the Knicks, but also the hundreds of scouts, coaches and executives in the arena.
Feron Hunt, who signed a two-way contract with the Knicks last season, and Jean Montero, who inked an Exhibit-10 deal after the draft, are already near locks to attend Thibodeau’s training camp in September. Other intriguing players on the Summer League roster include forward Aamir Sims, guard MJ Walker and forward D’Shawn Schwartz.