Sophomore guard Quentin Grimes has proven himself to be a true asset for the New York Knicks in 2022-23, and, as a result, has earned a consistent starting spot within the rotation and is producing at career-high rates virtually all across the board.
That said, despite his impressive level of play this year, since the club traded for Josh Hart from the Portland Trail Blazers on February 8, the 22-year-old has seen his role within the rotation be negatively impacted, as Tom Thibodeau finds himself reallocating some of his minutes to help get their new acquisition some extra time on the hardwood.
Though losing valuable in-game reps is typically not an easy thing for a player to accept, especially for young and developing talents like Grimes, it appears the guard is keeping an upbeat mindset amid his semi-demotion, as Zach Braziller of the New York Post shared some of his recent comments regarding the situation and, overall, he seems to be rather accepting of Thibodeau’s recent minute’s distribution.
“Quentin Grimes on diminished role of late since Josh Hart’s arrival: “It’s not about minutes. It’s trying to win games. He helps us win games, that’s the main thing,”” Braziller tweeted.
Braziller would share in the thread that Grimes also stated that he believes he “can’t think about it” when it comes to ceding minutes to Hart, and that all he can do is “play how I’ve been playing all year, and not worry about that.”
Prior to the pre-deadline trade with Portland, since earning a consistent starting spot for the Knicks on November 20 the second-year guard found himself logging 34.2 minutes per game and was producing to the tune of 11.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists on 45.4% shooting from the floor.
Following Hart’s arrival, however, Grimes has seen just 22.4 minutes per game (a near 12-minute drop-off) and has put up mere averages of 4.5 points and 2.0 rebounds on a putrid 25.0% shooting from the field.
Hart’s Arrival Also Impacting Knicks Centerpiece
Josh Hart’s addition to the Knicks’ rotation isn’t just negatively impacting Grimes’ playing time but, also, the overall play of fourth-year wing, RJ Barrett.
Already found within a relative slump during the weeks leading up to the mid-season acquisition, the 22-year-old has only seen his production lull reach new lows as he’s averaging just 12.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists on 34.8% shooting from the floor and 22.2% shooting from distance with the veteran now aboard.
In a February 14 episode of the Lowe Post Podcast, host Zach Lowe discussed how the addition of Hart may be more than just a move by the Knicks to improve their wing depth, as he suggested that his presence in the rotation could be perceived as a warning to someone like Barrett, suggesting that if he can’t improve upon his level of play, he could eventually find himself being replaced within the lineup.
“When is it time to start thinking about ‘ok, so what exactly is this guy that we just paid all this money to?’… It’s clear now that (the Knicks) traded for Josh Hart as a message to (Quentin) Grimes, to Barrett, to maybe (Obi) Toppin, to whoever else, like, ‘dude, if you’re not playing well, we got another guy who can come in and close games for us,’ and I’m just looking at RJ Barrett (and) I’m like, I don’t know what his job is with (Julius) Randle and (Jalen) Brunson dominating the ball. He’s a good secondary ball handler, he does all that stuff pretty well, maybe he can beat up a mismatch now and then but, like, at some point he’s got to start making more shots, and this Josh Hart trade is not aimed at him necessarily but has already begun to affect his minutes, which, already, Grimes was chipping away at in crunch time,” Lowe said.
Unlike Barrett, since Hart’s insertion into the Knicks’ rotation he has been on an absolute tear, posting impressive averages of 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.5 steals per game on 65.0% shooting from the floor and 66.7% shooting from distance while boasting a defensive rating of 108 and a defensive box plus-minus of 5.4, both team-highs.
Latest Mock Draft Sees Knicks Improve Wing Position
The trade for Josh Hart certainly has bolstered the wing position for the Knicks considerably as they look to push for a postseason berth, but this is not to say that, come the conclusion of the 2023 campaign, Leon Rose and company won’t consider further improving their talent pool in this area of the rotation.
In a February 14 mock draft, Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman has them doing exactly that as he sees 20-year-old UConn guard Jordan Hawkins being a player the front office could consider selecting should he be available once their on the board.
“Shooting 44.9 percent off screens and 47.1 percent on spot-ups, Hawkins comes off as a plug-and-play shot-maker with one of the draft’s most bankable shooting skills,” Wasserman wrote.
Now in his second season with the Huskies, the 6-foot-5 Hawkins is putting forth a tremendous campaign, posting impressive per-game averages of 16.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists on a whopping 40.0% shooting from distance.