Knicks’ Quentin Grimes adored by coach as ‘fierce competitor’

Before the Knicks acquired Cam Reddish from the Hawks for Kevin Knox and a protected first-round pick on Thursday, Atlanta reportedly asked for Quentin Grimes.

But given the way coach Tom Thibodeau spoke glowingly about Grimes on Friday, perhaps it should be no surprise that the Knicks were not willing to part with the rookie.

“I love Grimes. I love Grimes,” Thibodeau said Friday after practice. “He’s a fierce competitor, can shoot the ball, can guard multiple positions, and he’s only going to get better. You look at his shot profile, it was great in college. It’s been great in the pros. So that’s an important part of winning. Then to see the way he guards people, his competitiveness, that stands out.”

Grimes has played in 24 games this season, including two starts, while averaging 4.9 points and shooting 38.4 percent from 3-point range in 13.7 minutes. But the Knicks’ recent COVID-19 and injury issues have opened the door for him to see more of an opportunity, and he has taken advantage.

Quentin Grimes
NBAE via Getty Images

In his past 10 games — during which the Knicks have gone 7-3 — Grimes is averaging 6.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and one steal in 21.1 minutes.

While Reddish won’t play immediately because of a sprained ankle, it remains to be seen whether his arrival will force somebody out of the rotation.

Thibodeau admitted that would likely happen at least when Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose return from injuries, but did say he liked how the current rotation was playing.

“The group that’s playing now is playing well,” Thibodeau said. “So we want to keep that going.”

Walker, who has missed the past seven games with left-knee soreness, is “doubtful” to play against the Hawks on Saturday, Thibodeau said.

Before he addressed the acquisition of Reddish, Thibodeau made sure he gave props to Knox, whose disappointing Knicks tenure ended after three-plus seasons.

“Kevin did a good job for us,” Thibodeau said. “I have great respect for him and his professionalism, the way he handled himself and of course we wish him well moving on.”

Asked if he had heard from any former Duke teammates since the Reddish trade went down — Zion Williamson notably joined them to form a Big 3 for the 2018-2019 Blue Devils — RJ Barrett said with a grin, “We’ll keep that in-house,” possibly wanting to avoid any whiff of tampering.