For New York Knicks fans this may have come as a surprise or it may have seemed like the writing was on the wall.
On Monday, New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke to the press and made some significant comments about changes to the team’s starting lineup. Thibodeau told reporters that Alec Burks would remain the starting point guard going forward and that Kemba Walker wasn’t just relegated to the bench, he would be out of the rotation.
The decision came after the Knicks’ impressive win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, a game that Walker sat out and Burks started.
Is demoting Kemba Walker the right move for the Knicks?
It’s been a struggle for the Knicks starters. There has been plenty of blame to go around: Walker, Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Evan Fournier have all underachieved thus far.
The startling lineup has been the source of most of New York’s shortcomings so far in the 2021-22 season.
Let’s start with this: the Kemba Walker signing was always going to be a low-risk move. New York paid Walker an annual salary of about eight million over the next two seasons.
Walker, who has been dealing with knee injuries over the last few seasons, has seen his explosiveness and consistency diminish. We know that the Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker is in the past.
Still, there was hope that Walker could bring an offensive upgrade at the point guard position that would help elevate the Knicks, even in a limited role.
Walker still has some juice, we’ve seen him have some scoring outbursts. He just hasn’t been a good fit with the team and their brand of basketball.
Tom Thibodeau wants his point guard to get downhill. He wants them to be able to get to the rim and create penetration. He wants them to play defense. Those just aren’t Walker’s strong suits right now.
Walker is still having a good year shooting the ball from three, but his slower-paced game and small stature just make it hard for him to help the other starters succeed.
This was a tough decision. It’s sad to see Walker, the New York native, not have his homecoming pan out so soon.
There’s still room for Walker to get back into the rotation at some point but it seems unlikely to be anytime soon.
Tom Thibodeau made the right choice. Now, Alec Burks will take over as the team’s starter with Immanuel Quickley seeing increased minutes and perhaps rookie Quentin Grimes consistently entering the rotation.