Cam Reddish’s long-awaited Knicks’ debut looks to be finally here

Cam Reddish is understandably excited about finally being available to make his Knicks debut Sunday at the Garden.

How many minutes he will earn against the Clippers, in his first game since being acquired from the Hawks on Jan. 13 — and for the rest of the season — remains an uncertainty.

“We have a rotation, so he has to be patient and work his way through that. But I’m very pleased with what he’s done so far,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of Reddish after practice Saturday in Tarrytown. “He’s getting closer. He’s picking up a lot of stuff right now. I think he’s pretty healthy. So that’s the first positive sign. And he’s been coming in early, practicing well and staying late. So see where he is [on Sunday].”

Reddish, who was acquired in exchange for Kevin Knox and a protected first-round draft pick (via Charlotte) hasn’t played since Jan. 9 due to a sprained ankle. The No. 10-overall pick in the 2019 draft was averaging 11.9 points in 23.4 minutes per game while shooting 37.9 percent from 3-point range in 34 games for Atlanta, but he was seeking a trade to find a place where he’d get more consistent playing time.

Cam Reddish
NBAE via Getty Images

It’s hard to imagine that scenario coming immediately with the Knicks, despite their 22-24 record, including three straight home losses. And that’s with veteran guard Derrick Rose still sidelined following December ankle surgery.

“To be honest I didn’t know what was going to happen with the whole trade situation,” said the 22-year-old Reddish, who officially has been listed as probable for Sunday. “I literally woke up to it all and ended up in New York.

“So, I’m just excited man to just get started. I can’t really control everything, minutes and stuff like that. But I can control my attitude and my effort. I’m going to do my best to give all that up.”

Perhaps the easiest solution would be for Kemba Walker to come back out of the lineup Sunday after playing two games following a nine-game injury absence. The four-time All-Star has been listed as questionable against the Clippers due to his recurring knee soreness.

Would Thibodeau consider taking minutes away from rookie Quentin Grimes, who constantly is praised by the coach for his play at both ends of the court? It doesn’t seem likely second-team guards Immanuel Quickley or Alec Burks would see their time drastically decreased.

Starting shooting guard Evan Fournier also has been among the Knicks’ most inconsistent players all season, and he’s coming off a 1-for-6 night from 3-point range Thursday against the Pelicans after connecting on 56.3 percent from long distance (27-for-48) over his previous six games.

Reddish, a teammate of Knicks wing RJ Barrett at Duke, also could simply receive the scant minutes being afforded to fan favorite Obi Toppin. He has logged just 12 minutes per game over his past nine outings.

And then there’s Julius Randle, the team’s leader in minutes played, at 35.4 per game. The reigning All-Star forward has posted three single-digit scoring outputs among his past 10 games, including another boo-filled performance (four points) Thursday night.

The team also was fined $25,000 for declining to make Randle available to the media after that game, a regular occurrence since he personally was fined that amount for his explanation that a thumbs-down gesture was directed as a “shut the f–k up” to MSG fans.

“I think we’re at our best when he’s attacking the rim. The more he attacks the rim, the better it is,” Thibodeau said of Randle. “And it’s not just his scoring, but it’s the rim reads and the sprays that triggers [the offense]. … It creates good offense and it puts a lot of pressure on the defense. And so when he plays like that, that’s when our offense is at its best.”

Asked if he could envision playing Reddish at power forward at times with Randle at center, Thibodeau replied: “It’s a good question. See, I do love Cam’s size. Right now we’re focused more on the wing position at the two and the three. But eventually I do want to get a look at that, to see where that goes. … But I don’t think you could have enough wings, and that’s why we did the deal.”

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