Kevin Knox is trying to remain positive and focused following his demotion this week from the Knicks’ 10-man playing rotation.
The 2018 lottery pick didn’t play at all in either of the Knicks’ losses Sunday against the Clippers or Monday night in Chicago after logging just eight minutes off the bench in each of the team’s previous two games.
“I know we’ve got a lot of great players on this team,” Knox said before Wednesday’s second straight road game against the Bulls. “The rotations can get tight. Coach [Tom Thibodeau] makes a lot of decisions. But he’s the head coach ultimately, so whatever decision he makes, I’ve got to respect it.
“I’m gonna continue to be ready, because anything can happen, at any moment, any given time. So I want to make sure that I’m ready. I’ll continue to get my reps up, continue to shoot the ball well, focus a lot on defense, watch a lot of film, so when they do call my number and my time does come, I’m ready.”
Knox, the ninth overall pick in 2018 out of Kentucky, had been logging more than 22 minutes per game through the Knicks first dozen games, with guard Alec Burks and rookie forward Obi Toppin missing several games with injuries before recently returning. Knox was shooting 41.7 percent from 3-point range and averaging 22 minutes per game over that stretch.
Reggie Bullock, who missed multiple games last week with a neck issue, also returned to the lineup Sunday against the Clippers. Thibodeau prefers starting Bullock at small forward because of his defensive ability.
With the rotation back to full strength, Thibodeau said Monday that Knox’s status is “very much situational” and he would be “the next guy in” if further injuries arise.
Former first-round pick Frank Ntilikina also hasn’t played since returning last week from a knee injury, while little-used guard Dennis Smith Jr. was assigned Monday to the Westchester Knicks of the G League.
The 21-year-old Knox started 57 games and averaged 28.4 minutes per game as a rookie in 2018-19, but his playing time dropped to 17.9 mpg last year. He is averaging a career-low 6.1 points and 18.2 minutes in 20 games this season.
“You see a lot of different things from the sidelines, honestly,” Knox said. “You see a lot of little things that you don’t really see on the court. I think a lot of people can say the same thing. I’ve been really watching the game, really learning from the sideline
“Last year, my minutes were a little low, but like I said, I really learned a lot from last year about just being ready at any given time, just continue to work no matter how much playing time you get. I’ll continue to do the same thing this year.”
For now, that means putting in his work in practice and supporting his teammates, while his future with the organizations grows murkier.
“I think that’s very important right now, just being the best teammate I can be no matter how much playing time I get,” Knox said. “Just encouraging my guys, making sure that I help some of the young guys – Obi, Quick [Immanuel Quickley] – and even some of the older guys if I see something from the side.
“I’m always staying ready, working hard in practice, going 100 percent because you never know when my number can be called. Whether I play or not. I’m just going to be the best teammate I can be…When my number is called I’m going to be ready to go in there and really play hard, get rebounds, get steals, just make hustle plays, making winning plays so I can see my minutes increase.”