In the months leading to the trade deadline, the New York Knicks were reportedly amenable to part ways with Immanuel Quickley for a first-round pick.
Now, the Knicks must be feeling a sense of relief no one met their asking price.
Quickley has since grown into an important piece — oftentimes looked their third best player outside Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson. Now more than ever, they need Quickley’s best version with their postseason hopes on the line.
Brunson re-aggravated his left foot injury and did not return after a 19-point first-half performance during their 122-117 loss in Sacramento two nights ago. The next day, the Knicks listed him out with the same sore left foot that sidelined him for two games before this road trip.
Brunson’s X-Ray result came out negative, New York coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters before they face the Los Angeles Clippers. He’s listed as day-to-day, but there’s a sense that Brunson might be out longer to avoid worsening the injury. Quickley suddenly becomes more indispensable. The third-year guard hoping for a lucrative extension in the offseason now has the spotlight. It’s up to him to help his cause and the Knicks as they stare at the possibility of losing the fifth seed or worse fall all the way down to the play-in tournament without Brunson.
“It’s tough,” Quickley said. “[Brunson] is a big part of our team, a big part of what we do. He’s a leader on and off the floor.”
“So everybody just got to be a little better, bring more, especially defensively.”
The Knicks are 3-3 without Brunson this season. In those games, Quickley averaged a staggering 43.7 minutes. He responded by putting up All-Star numbers: 22.7 points, 7.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals. The Knicks are plus-6 in those Quickley’s huge minutes.
But after a career-high 38 points in a big win in Boston, what followed was a pair of horrible shooting performances from Quickley.
He was 5 for 16 in a loss to the lottery-bound Charlotte Hornets. He shot worse against the Kings, missing his first 10 attempts before sinking a three-pointer — his lone field goal — late in the loss.
With the opposing defenses now scheming against him and without Brunson to take off some of the attention, the pressure is mounting.
Can Quickley deliver and further prove his value to the Knicks?
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