Report: Kemba Walker out of Knicks Rotation

Report: Kemba Walker out of Knicks Rotation

by November 30, 2021 0 comments

It looks like Kemba Walker is out of the rotation for now. New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters that he is removing Walker from the starting lineup and overall rotation.

Thibodeau explained his decision to reporters Monday after practice, “It’s a tough decision to make, but you always have to do what you think is best for the team.” He then went on to say, “I view Kemba as a starter, and so it’d be tough to play three small guards together. I gave it consideration, and I’ve got great respect for who Kemba is as a person and all he’s accomplished in this league. But I have to do what I think is best for the team.”

Alec Burks will be the starting point guard moving forward. Burks had an outstanding performance on Saturday’s win against the Atlanta Hawks, scoring 23 points. Walker hasn’t played since their Friday night loss against the Phoenix Suns.

Thibodeau also explained his reasoning behind keeping the new lineup. “I want to tighten the rotation. I liked the way the team functioned, so it will be similar to what we did in the Atlanta game.”

It would be better for everyone if Walker were out of the lineup. The Knicks lineup of Walker, Evan Fournier, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson have played 287 minutes this season together, the most by any 5-man group. They have been outscored by ninety-one points when on the floor, making it the worst of any five-man lineup.

Where Does This Leave Walker?

The Bronx native was picked ninth overall in the 2011 NBA draft by the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets. He spent his first eight seasons with Charlotte until signing with the Boston Celtics in 2019. He spent two seasons with Boston and only played 43 games in the 2020-2021 season.

This past offseason, Walker and a 2021 first-round draft pick (16th selection) and a 2025 second-round draft pick were traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder on June 18, 2021. Boston would receive Al Horford, Moses Brown, and a 2023 second-round draft pick. Eventually, Walker agreed to a contract buyout on August 6, 2021, giving up twenty million dollars of his current contract. Walker would sign a two-year twenty-million-dollar contract with the Knicks on August 11, 2021.

Walker is currently averaging career lows in points (11.1), rebounds (2.6), assists (3.1), field goal attempts (9.8), and minutes (24.5). Compare that to Burks, who is averaging 10.5 points, shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 45.1 percent from three.

The four-time all-star has lacked defense throughout his career but is a proven scorer for a team when healthy. Unfortunately, Walker has been struggling with knee injuries since last season, and it shows. The Knicks are being outscored when Walker is on the court by 13 points per 100 possessions and are outscoring teams by 11 points per 100 possessions when he isn’t.

It may not be a permanent situation for Walker, but rumors have already been swirling about trading him. His potential trade value could go up if Walker proves he can still play when returning into the rotation. Walker could possibly be a part of a John Wall trade, another all-star guard out of the rotation who is looking to move on from the Houston Rockets.

What’s Next for New York?

Currently, the Knicks are 11-9, making them second in the Atlantic Division but seventh overall in the Eastern Conference. They are only three games behind the Nets, who are currently first in the division and conference, and one ahead of the 76ers. The Knicks play Tuesday against their crosstown-rival Brooklyn Nets.

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