Quentin Grimes rues missed opportunity to fight for starting spot in Knicks training camp

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New York Knicks veteran shooting guard Evan Fournier retained his starting spot by default.

Second-year wing Quentin Grimes was ready to come after Fournier’s spot as he worked hard last summer to prepare for the opportunity. But a left foot soreness, perhaps due to pushing himself so hard, robbed him of his shot in the training camp. So he wasn’t surprised when Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau declared that Fournier was the frontrunner heading into the season opener.

“I knew that coming in because Evan (Fournier) earned it really. It’s his 11th year [in the league]. I didn’t assume that I was going to come in and [hand it over to me] like Thibs (Thibodeau) said, ‘you got to come in and earn it.’ That’s what I expected going into the training camp, but then I got hurt. So it got derailed. But I felt like [Fournier] earned it. He was the guy that had it coming in. And I had to prove myself. I didn’t get the opportunity to do that.”

Quentin Grimes I Monday Post-Practice Media Availability

Grimes candidly admits that he wants to start. Who doesn’t?

“I think everybody wants to be starting. I came off the bench and did what was needed for the team [last] season, but if I come in and do what I’m supposed to do, then I get a chance to start. That would be great, but as I say, I’m a winner. I take pride in doing the little things and doing it right to help this team win.”

Quentin Grimes I Monday Post-Practice Media Availability

While he would have relished dueling with Fournier for the starting spot in the training camp, it wasn’t lost on him that the 29-year-old Frenchman has been one of the veterans he was leaning on since arriving in the NBA last season as the 25th pick.

“[Fournier’s] been teaching me stuff. He and Kemba (Walker) were my vets. They really talked to me when I was on the bench before I wasn’t playing and when I was playing. [They were there for me] the whole time. So it would have been a great competition because me and Evan are great competitors.

Quentin Grimes I Monday Post-Practice Media Availability

When he was given the opportunity during his rookie year, Grimes earned Thibodeau’s trust with his gusty play and his defense. But it wasn’t only Thibodeau who fancied him.

Atlanta reportedly wanted Grimes in exchange for Cam Reddish. But the Knicks pushed back, and the Hawks settled for Kevin Knox and Charlotte’s protected future first-round pick. Utah also eyed him in the Donovan Mitchell talks. But again, the Knicks kept him off the table and instead reportedly put RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Fournier (going to a third team) plus multiple picks in their final offer that the Jazz did not accept.

“I’m big on loyalty, so I feel like it kind of showed how invested they were just seeing me every day, just working and working. Even when my name was in the trade rumors last year at the trade deadline, they called me and were like, ‘Thibs love you, blah, blah, blah. We love your work ethic.’

So just having that trust and that belief in you goes a long way with your confidence, when you go out there on the court and know they believe in you and they’re putting everything into you and they’re not worried about maybe just somebody coming in for an instant, instant success. They kind of really put a lot of belief in you. So I thought that goes a long way with how I see things in the future with the Knicks and everybody, really.”

Quentin Grimes I Monday Post-Practice Media Availability

Grimes is raring to repay the Knicks’ trust.

The 6-foot-5 guard credited Anthony Goenaga, the Knicks’ head athletic trainer, and the whole medical staff for staying on top of his rehab from the minor injury.

Grimes fully participated in Monday’s practice for the first time since the first day of the training camp. But it was not enough for him to return for Wednesday’s preseason game in Indianapolis. The Knicks remained cautious and Thibodeau has ruled him out following Tuesday’s practice. But Grimes is hopeful that he could play in the Knicks’ final preseason game at home against Washington on Friday before they head to Memphis to face the Grizzlies for the season opener next week.

Then he could start proving himself which could also bring out the best in Fournier.

Iron sharpens iron.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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