Tom Thibodeau is very consistent. He likes defenders, explosive guards and, above all, veterans. The older you are, the more likely you are to play on the Thibodeau team. With training camp opening in New York this week, it looks like the Knicks will continue this trend for another season. Thibodeau told the media that 29-year-old Evan Fournier, rather than second-year nominee Quentin Grimes, is expected to start at quarterback for the Knicks.
While Grimes was a rookie, he was one of the best Summer League players in Las Vegas. When the Knicks were discussing a trade for former Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, the inclusion of Grimes became a major sticking point. Mitchell is now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers in part because of how much the New York front office believes in Grimes. But despite this belief, Grimes will have to fight to defeat the more proven Fournier.
This is again the style of Thibodeau. To an even greater extent, this played out with Obi Toppin, selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. Last season, Toppin averaged 19 points in 36 minutes on over 53 percent shooting from the field, but he was given fewer minutes per game than Taj Gibson, who had 36 last season and was waived several times by the Knicks. Gibson played for Thibodeaux in Chicago and played much more defensively than Toppin.
Ironically, resentment stands in Grimes’ path this season. “With Jalen [Brunson]with RJ [Barrett]with Julius [Randle] we need shooting, Thibodeau said New York’s starting shooting guard requirements this season. Both Fournier and Grimes have shot 38.1% from 38.1% in their careers, although Fournier has done so over a much longer period of time with significantly more volume.
Of course, the Knicks aren’t looking to win a championship this season. They are building a future that is far more dependent on Grimes than Fournier. The front office seems to have figured this out during the talks with Mitchell. Whether Thibodeau will still be unknown.