New York Knicks: Allonzo Trier’s descent to the bottom of the rotation

New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

From David Fizdale favorite to riding the bench, Allonzo Trier has become a surprise cutoff from the New York Knicks’ rotation.

In the 2018-19 season, around this time, Allonzo Trier was the talk of the New York Knicks. Working from a two-way contract into a full-on NBA deal, the undrafted free agent took playing time immediately and ran with it. If anything, for a time, he was the Knicks’ most productive rookie of a trio that included Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox.

Fast-forward to 2019-20, and Trier is an afterthought.

The Knicks were always set for a rotation crunch this season; the roster filled with players on guaranteed contracts, as 14 of the 15 spots featured healthy talent to open the year. Despite this, Trier seemed to find a role, starting opening night against the San Antonio Spurs. However, that moment lasted just six minutes, resulting in a failed backcourt experiment with RJ Barrett.

Knicks coach David Fizdale gave Trier two more chances, playing roughly 44 minutes combined against the Brooklyn Nets on Oct. 25 and in the blowout 23-point loss to the Boston Celtics on Oct. 26, which is now his latest appearance for the team, over seven days ago.

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Instead, Fizdale has honed in on Wayne Ellington, who has taken the main reserve role at shooting guard. The other backcourt spot, point guard, has been a balancing act, too, as the coaching staff sifts through Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr. and Elfrid Payton when each player is available.

Perhaps the biggest roadblock for Trier’s absences via coach’s decision, though, is Fizdale’s choice to play Barrett between 31-39 minutes in each of the Knicks’ six games. That limits the opportunities at shooting guard, including for Damyean Dotson, as one player controls the role, with just one player, Ellington, necessary to back him up.

So Trier will struggle to find time unless Fizdale makes one of his trademark rotation changes or if more injuries arise.

Point guard could have been an option for the Arizona product, but Barrett, Ntilikina and Payton are all more natural passers and can consume the position alone, not counting Smith Jr., who remains out due to his stepmother’s passing. Trier’s 9.2 assist percentage is worst among the team’s guards.

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Being locked into a bench role will not last forever, but Trier may not find a bigger opportunity for some time. Whether it is injuries or poor play that creates rotation changes, something will give for the second-year man; he is too talented for the New York Knicks to keep aside.