The arrival of Kemba Walker to the New York Knicks brought a lot of excitement and a few questions. Is this the new start Kemba has been hoping for? Can Coach Tom Thibodeau revive Walker’s career? How can Kemba and Derrick Rose co-exist in the backcourt rotation? As far as Thibs is concerned, it looks like he plans to utilize Kemba the same way he uses Rose.
What the arrival of Kemba Walker means to the Knicks
Walker’s value to the Boston Celtics diminished as his knee problems persisted, so the new Celtics GM (and Kemba’s former coach) Brad Stevens shipped him out to Oklahoma City. The Thunder expectedly bought Kemba out, which enabled Walker to join Celtics rivals Knicks as a free agent. He claimed he was ecstatic to join New York and even threw a subtle shade to his former team.
Getting traded is a part of a professional basketball player’s life. For Boston, it’s clear that Walker has not lived up to his potential and contract in his time with the C’s. Signed to fill in the shoes left by Kyrie Irving, Kemba flashed moments of what he can do when healthy, but injuries got in the way. Now, he has a chance to prove all the doubters wrong.
Thibodeau straight-up revealed that he plans to use Kemba Walker as much as he can, the way he utilized Derrick Rose in their time in Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, and recently, in New York.
New York is on the upswing. They entered the Playoffs last season with a young core, and their inexperience showed. Derrick Rose was their only go-to guy against the Hawks – Kemba’s experience and leadership should help the young stars on the Knicks react better to Playoff pressure.
But, anytime you hear Thibs plans to play someone “as much as he can,” you should get worried – especially if their medical history looks like Kemba’s. The hope is Walker’s workload will be under control because D-Rose is on the team, but as we know, Rose has had his share of injuries as well.
No one was surprised when the top 2 players in minutes last year were Julius Randle and RJ Barret. As much as Thibs proclaims he accepted the modern ways of the NBA, his guys play a lot of minutes. But, there is some change – he spared Rose heavy minutes until the crucial games in the Playoffs.
So while he may say Kemba will play in back-to-backs, there’ll probably be a minutes restriction on those games. We hope there will – Kemba’s knees probably can’t take a full Thibs season.