Knicks’ Projected Starting Lineup Would Be a Major Disappointment

Evan Fournier, New York Knicks

Getty Julius Randle of the New York Knicks reacts to the loss with teammates Evan Fournier and Obi Toppin late in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets.

This summer, the New York Knicks failed to get a deal done for highly-coveted star, Donovan Mitchell, as he was ultimately traded from the Utah Jazz to the Cleveland Cavaliers on September 1.

While there are many reasons why Leon Rose and company weren’t able to execute a trade for the guard, perhaps the most noteworthy of them all was their unwillingness to include their soon-to-be sophomore, Quentin Grimes, in an outbound package.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, talks between the Jazz and Knicks ultimately stalled out because they did not wish to include the 22-year-old guard into the equation despite Danny Ainge’s interest. Here’s what Wojnarowski said about the situation on a September 1 episode of“The Woj Pod.”

“Utah wanted RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes, and three first-round picks from New York. That would have been two unprotected and perhaps a protected — up to top-five protected pick,” Wojnarowski said.

“But the Knicks did not want to put Grimes in a deal. They were willing to do Immanuel Quickley, and, with Immanuel Quickley, Utah’s ask was three unprotected picks. They valued Grimes more than Quickley, and essentially New York said ‘we’ll do Quickley and RJ, but we want two unprotected picks and a protected third — we essentially want what you want for Grimes, we want to put Quickley in that deal.’ And that was the end.”

With this bit of information, fans and media pundits alike interpreted the specific situation as the Knicks valuing keeping their 2021 first-round pick over acquiring the perennial All-Star in Mitchell.

Though there are a plethora of differing opinions about this philosophy of the front office, with the consensus feeling being that New York should have gone all-in for the 26-year-old, some have stated that because of how things played out the ball club must now commit to Grimes as a foundational player and, in turn, give him a starting gig within the rotation to justify their actions.

However, just because such a move would likely make sense, this does not mean that this alteration to the rotation will become a reality.

In fact, some outlets are already predicting that Grimes won’t even crack the top-six within Tom Thibodeau’s rotation for 2022-23.

Fournier Projected to Start Over Grimes

On September 22, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report published a piece predicting every team’s starting lineup for this upcoming season, and, when it comes to the Knicks, he believes that their first five will look something like this:

  • PG: Jalen Brunson
  • SG: RJ Barrett
  • SF: Evan Fournier
  • PF: Julius Randle
  • C: Mitchell Robinson

Though Swartz did state within his article that New York should strongly consider slotting Grimes or even Quickley into the starting lineup, ultimately he’s predicting Fournier will get the nod which, in his opinion, could prove to be disastrous for the team.

“If Brunson plays at a near-All-Star level and Randle looks like his 2019-20 version, this lineup has some real bite. If Randle plays like he did last season and Fournier remains in the starting lineup, these Knicks will fall short of the playoffs once again.”

During his rookie season, Grimes showcased the potential to be a reliable two-way player and posted solid averages of 17.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.0 steals, and just shy of a block per 100 possessions on 40.4% shooting from the floor and 38.1% shooting from deep.

The combo guard also managed to see six starts in 2021-22, where he went on to post 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.2 steals on 45.8% shooting from the floor and 43.8% shooting from deep.

Insider Believes Grimes Will Start for Knicks

Despite Bleacher Report’s prediction, SNY’s Ian Begley believes Quentin Grimes could beat Evan Fournier out for a spot in the starting lineup for this season and stated that such a move has already been discussed within the organization.

“One scenario discussed internally around that time was starting Quentin Grimes at shooting guard and bringing Fournier off the bench,” Begley said.

Fournier is entering his second season with the New York Knicks and managed to set a franchise record in three-pointers made last year, though considering his lackluster production overall and his underwhelming box plus-minus rating of -0.7 (10th worst on the team last season) this factor alone might not be enough for him to save his position in the starting five.

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