It’s been three long months since the Knicks last played basketball, and another three long months until they play again.
At least we have the Summer League in the middle.
For the Knicks, much of the intrigue dissolved when they traded their 11th overall pick last month. They flirted with the draft of Jaden Ivey, who instead went to the team – the Detroit Pistons – which will be the main attraction in Vegas with Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren, Killian Hayes and the Boeheim brothers as well on the list.
But there will be storylines and developments for Tom Thibodeau’s team to follow, with the first four detailed below:
Last year became a showcase for Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, who both demonstrated off-season growth and confidence while averaging over 20 points per game. This was eventually carried over to the NBA season, although it took Quickley a few months to get going.
The 2022 Summer League Knicks should be Grimes Time. The 25th overall pick in 2021 displayed two-way potential and became a Thibodeau favorite, starting six games before a knee injury derailed his final six weeks. Grimes was better than his modest six-point average on 40.4 percent shooting. It’s not ridiculous to think he’ll be in contention for the starting shooting guard spot this season, especially with Jalen Brunson now in the backcourt. Brunson, like Evan Fournier, struggles defensively and might be a better fit with Grimes.
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The Summer League is a chance for 22-year-old Grimes to show what he can do with the ball. He will be a star offensive player in Vegas.
Assuming the Knicks’ roster is complete or nearly complete, there won’t be much playing time available for point guard Miles McBride and center Jericho Sims. Especially McBride.
Kemba Walker is gone but he didn’t play much last season anyway. Brunson arrives and Derrick Rose returns. There are also Fournier, RJ Barrett and Quickley who eat up minutes in the guard posts. It’s a tough situation for McBride and the Summer League won’t determine his rotational spot, but it’s an opportunity to rekindle excitement for his potential. He became a fan favorite despite limited opportunities, which was at least partly due to the Knicks’ messy situation at point guard. McBride was a monster against Summer League levels of competition averaging 27.8 points and 10.8 assists in six G League appearances.
The Sims situation is a bit different. The Knicks traded one center but signed another, Isaiah Hartenstein, while committing big money to Mitchell Robinson to be their present and future center. Taj Gibson’s fate is still unknown, but, at best on paper, the Sims will be the second replacement. He’s also a strong candidate for a standard NBA contract after playing last season on a two-way deal, giving the Summer League a little more sway if he’s not signed by Friday’s opener.
The Knicks traded their first round this year but used their 42nd pick on Trevor Keels, a Duke guard who disappointed in his only college season but was a five-star recruit in high school. As with McBride, there isn’t much room in the Knicks’ rotation for a young guard and it’s easy to see Keels playing in the G League as a rookie. But we haven’t seen him as a pro yet and Friday against the Warriors will be our first look.
There are always a few players who impress enough in the Summer League to earn a training camp invite, which rarely, but sometimes, converts into a spot on the roster. Either way, a solid performance puts this player on the radar of not just the Knicks, but hundreds of scouts, coaches, and executives in the arena.
Feron Hunt, who signed a two-way contract with the Knicks last season, and Jean Montero, who signed an Exhibit-10 contract after the draft, are already set to attend Thibodeau’s training camp in September. . Striker Aamir Sims, full-back MJ Walker and striker D’Shawn Schwartz are some of the other intriguing players in the Summer League roster.