New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau elected to drop veteran point guard Kemba Walker from the rotation over the weekend, indicating that Alec Burks would remain the team’s starting point guard moving forward.
After Burks contributed 23 points against the Atlanta Hawks and helped the starting unit play at a far more efficient level, Thibodeau was forced to make a decision regarding Walker. Kemba was virtually useless as a defender, disrupting the identity of the Knicks, something that Thibodeau couldnâ€™t sit by and watch.
“It’s a tough decision to make, but you always have to do what you think is best for the team,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters following the team’s practice on Monday.
However, the Knicks donâ€™t want Walker’s skill set to go to waste, as they will likely consider trading him before February 10 deadline.
According to A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report, the Knicks will look to move Walker before the deadline in February:
Multiple league sources believe the Knicks will look to trade Walker, whose value on the trade market, much like his production, is at an all-time low.
However, league sources believe Walker’s value has the potential to change as the Knicks get closer to the Feb. 10 trade deadline and teams get more desperate to add a veteran who, despite his defensive shortcomings, has shown he can still make shots, albeit in a more limited capacity.
Walker’s regular-season statistics average out at 11.7 points, 3.1 assists, 42.9% shooting from the field, and 41.3% from three-point range. However, those numbers are quite misleading, as, in the month of November, heâ€™s shooting just 29.6% from deep and 39% from the field. Heâ€™s recorded just four double-digit point games out of 12, making him a non-factor.
However, the most grueling statistic is that of his defense. When Walker is on the court, the Knicks have the worst defense in the entire league, but when he is off it, they have the top-ranked unit in the NBA. Specifically, the Knicks are allowing 99 points over 100 possessions when Walker is on the bench, but 116.3 when heâ€™s on the floor. Offensively, it doesnâ€™t get much better, ranking 27th in offensive production with 103 points per 100 possessions when he is playing. However, when he is inactive, the Knicks rank 9th with 110.2 points per 100 possessions.
Ultimately, the statistics speak volumes about his contributions, and if the Knicks want to be a solid team looking to build momentum, they ultimately had to make a difficult choice and drop Walker.