Tom Thibodeau often describes his rotation decisions as fluid situations largely dependent on what he believes is needed for a specific game.
Based on Sunday’s home win over Cleveland, guards Cam Reddish and Derrick Rose were the latest to be dropped from the Knicks’ rotation. And that seems likely to continue, at least for now, in Wednesday’s matchup against Trae Young and the Hawks at the Garden.
Neither Reddish nor Rose got off the bench in Sunday’s win over the Cavs — the team’s second in their last nine games at MSG — with second-year guard Miles McBride playing 15 minutes within a reduced nine-man rotation.
Thibodeau had said after Sunday’s game that sitting Rose — who had missed two games on the previous road trip with a toenail issue — was based on it being the tail end of a back-to-back. But the 35-year-old point guard said after Tuesday’s practice that wasn’t what his longtime NBA coach told him.
“He said he wanted to give Deuce [McBride] a look. That’s all he told me. So I understood,” said Rose, who then was asked if he was under the impression the switch was a one-game thing. “I don’t know. I know he’ll be transparent with me. But I don’t know. Nobody talked to me today about anything. But I went through practice. I’m good.”
Reddish, who was acquired for a first-round draft pick from Atlanta in January, had appeared in the Knicks’ first 19 games, including eight starts, while Quentin Grimes was in and out of the lineup with a foot injury suffered in training camp.
Reddish also missed three late-November games with a groin injury, but he was held scoreless in nine minutes in Saturday’s home loss to Dallas before getting benched on Sunday. The Knicks declined to make him available to the media after Tuesday’s practice.
“It’s not just on Cam, it’s on our team. What gives our team the best chance?” Thibodeau said after practice in Tarrytown. “You always have to put the team first. So there’s a lot of sacrifices that need to be made by a team. But we’re always going to put what we feel is best for the team first.
“Rarely is anything ever permanent. When another opportunity comes, be ready. That’s all … right now they’re not in the rotation but be ready, you could be thrown into the rotation at any time. In the meantime be a great teammate, help us in practice. That’s what you do control. I think that’s an important part of being a team.”
Of course, Thibodeau and Rose also previously were aligned in Chicago and Minnesota, but the three-time All-Star has averaged 13.6 minutes per game over 21 appearances as a backup to $104 million free-agent signing Jalen Brunson.
“I talk to him all the time. So he’s always been a consummate pro. He’s always put the team first,” Thibodeau said of Rose, who underwent season-ending ankle surgery in December of last season. “That’s what I love about him is whether he was the MVP or now in the later stages of his career, he’s always done whatever you asked of him. That’s why he adds great value to your team.”
Thibodeau similarly removed Kemba Walker from the Knicks’ playing rotation around this time last year, and the four-time All-Star was traded away in the offseason. Evan Fournier — making $18 million this season — also hasn’t played a minute in the past 11 games since his last appearance on Nov. 13.
“When you’re a pro you stay ready,” Rose said, “or find a way to get ready.”
With one year remaining on the three-year, $43.6 million deal he signed before last season, Rose could be used as a trade chip at the February deadline, especially if the Knicks (11-13) fall out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. He never has won a championship during an injury-plagued 15-year NBA career.
“I just want to be happy playing basketball,” Rose said. “Of course if I could get one, that would be great. But I always felt like me being on the court in Year 15, that is kind of like a championship for me.”
- Derrick Rose, Cam Reddish odd men out in Knicks rotation shakeup
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