The Knicks traded a first-round draft pick more than two weeks ago for Cam Reddish, but the former lottery selection mostly has remained outside coach Tom Thibodeau’s playing rotation since his arrival from Atlanta.
Reddish didn’t get off the bench again in the loss Friday night at Milwaukee, and despite six losses over the past seven games, Thibodeau indicated that he isn’t likely to alter his current 10-man rotation without an injury or further trades.
“Everything was discussed. We like who he is. We like the talent,” Thibodeau said when asked about Reddish following the game Friday. “And right now — it’s a long season. We knew we traded someone who wasn’t in the rotation, so you can’t keep adding to it without taking someone out. We can have injuries, so just have to be patient and work our way through it.”
The Knicks’ front office packaged little-used former lottery pick Kevin Knox and Charlotte’s protected 2022 first-round selection on Jan. 13 for Reddish, who was a teammate of RJ Barrett’s at Duke and was the No. 10-overall selection in 2019.
Reddish was unavailable for his first four games with the Knicks due to an ankle injury, but he only has appeared in two of the team’s four games since, totaling eight points in 15 minutes. Ten of those minutes came in the fourth quarter of the blowout loss Wednesday at Miami.
Rookie guard Quentin Grimes has become a fixture in the rotation, especially since veteran Derrick Rose underwent ankle surgery in December.
The Knicks could open up playing time on the wing for Reddish or others ahead of the Feb. 10 trade deadline by potentially dealing a veteran guard or wing player, such as Alec Burks, Evan Fournier or Kemba Walker, who already was benched for a nine-game stretch earlier this season.
In the meantime, however, Thibodeau stuck with his beleaguered starting unit and his regular rotation — without using Reddish — Friday night against the Bucks.
Slumping 2021 All-Star Julius Randle was held to single digits (nine points) for the third time in 13 January games, but Fournier finished with 25 points and Barrett netted 23 in the loss to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. The Knicks were within two points of the defending NBA champions early in the fourth quarter before losing by 15.
“I thought they played with good energy,” Thibodeau said of his starting five. “I didn’t like our defense in [allowing 39 points in] the first quarter. I thought we gave up too many points, and mainly it was off our turnovers. We put them into the open floor.
“And then I thought once we settled down, we got going pretty good. The second and third quarter, I thought we played really well. And then the fourth quarter, we didn’t play the way we needed to play.”
Barrett also saw more cohesiveness within the starting unit Friday night following a disastrous performance two nights earlier against the Heat.
“I think we were playing for each other, moving the ball and playing for each other,” Barrett said. “Getting the shots that we want, the shots that we work on. It was definitely good to see us going out there and playing well together.
“Just continuously [have to] make the easy play, the easy play to help a teammate out. And when we’re open, we have to make our shots.”
Fournier added that a strong start in the first quarter “is always important,” but it needs to happen more consistently at both ends of the floor.
“Our offense was good, but 39 points [allowed] in the first quarter is way too much,” Fournier said. “When you try to analyze a game, it’s different every time.
“I thought we had a good pace [Friday night]. I thought we shared the ball. I thought we played the right way, for the most part. On that [offensive] end, it was fine. It was really getting back in transition and trying to play better defense.”