Alec Burks is making progress, but Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau wasn’t ready on Saturday to say the veteran wing will play Sunday night against the Rockets when his team opens a crucial six-game road trip.
Burks (COVID-19 health and safety protocols list), who had missed the past seven games, took part in Wednesday’s shootaround and Saturday’s practice, but is still being listed as day-to-day.
“He’s got to get his conditioning up to speed,” Thibodeau said. “When he’s comfortable, we’ll get him in there.”
Burks was playing well at the time he was sidelined, scoring 19 points or more in nine of his past 15 games. Yet the Knicks went 6-1 in the games Burks missed, as Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley upped their production. Just like with Mitchell Robinson (broken right foot), the Knicks have shown an impressive ability to survive the absences of key players.
“I think it’s one of the strengths of our club in that we do have a deep team,” Thibodeau said.
Quickley has the green light, no matter where he is on the court. Thibodeau doesn’t mind his rookie guard taking 3-pointers well beyond the arc.
“We actually have a 4-point line at our practice facility, and he shoots just as effectively from that area,” Thibodeau said of Quickley, who is shooting 38.7 percent from deep. “We want him to read the defense. If he has an opening, sometimes in transition those are the best looks he can get.
“We have a lot of confidence in his shooting. That’s his gift.”
Thibodeau said Robinson is progressing after surgery, but he’s not doing any on-court work. That is the next progression. There is no timetable, so a possible return for him this season remains uncertain.
“We don’t want to take any chances with it, so we’re going to be very patient and make sure he’s completely healthy before we get him going again,” Thibodeau said.
— Additional reporting by Marc Berman