Kemba Walker, Tom Thibodeau weigh in on failed Knicks experiment: No bad blood

Kemba Walker, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks
Dec 17, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Kemba Walker (34) reacts after a foul call during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Josefczyk-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday night, Kemba Walker emerged from a two-game maintenance schedule to face his former team, New York Knicks.

It was brief, as Walker logged only five minutes and recorded a solitary point. But it didn’t matter as his new team, Dallas Mavericks, thanks to Luka Doncic’s historic night, made sure Walker would come out victorious.

But to the Knicks, it was a validation of their decision to nix the Walker experiment.

Walker can still explode as he did against the Cleveland Cavaliers 11 days ago when he produced a season-high 32 points and seven assists. But it came with most of the Mavericks starters, including Doncic, sat out.

Such performances are no longer the norm for the former four-time All-Star guard.

Walker also had such moments with the Knicks last season, but his troublesome knees kept him from doing it regularly.

Before facing his hometown team, Walker told reporters why he shut it down midway through last season.

“It wasn’t that tough, to be honest. It was a selfish decision, actually. I was looking out for myself. I wanted to get [my knee] right. At that time, I wasn’t playing much at all. So it just didn’t make sense.

To be honest, I just kept working. Working my butt off trying to get myself back. These guys (Mavericks) gave me a call. So that’s definitely much appreciated.”

Kemba Walker via NY Post

Despite his fairy-tale homecoming turning into a nightmare last season, Walker cherished his brief time with the Knicks. He said he still roots for them, except on Tuesday night.

“I’m a New York City kid, born and raised. Those were some great memories for me that I will remember and definitely cherish for a very long time.”

Kemba Walker via NY Post

Tom Thibodeau, who yanked Walker out of the starting lineup and regular rotation 20 games into last season, always said the decision was nothing personal.

He again reiterated that before facing Walker in Dallas.

“Look, I love Kemba. Kemba has been a great player in the league for a long time. The only issue we had with Kemba was health. If Kemba’s healthy, he’s a great guy and he’s a great player.”

Tom Thibodeau via NY Post

Like the Knicks, the Mavericks took a flier on Walker. And now they’re finding out themselves why the Knicks nixed the experiment.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo