After stints with the Hornets and Celtics, star point guard Kemba Walker seemed excited to join the New York Knicks. Born in the Bronx, Walker has deep-rooted connections to the city and it's no secret that the organization had been looking for some help in the backcourt for years before his arrival.
Unfortunately, after just 18 games, Tom Thibedeaou has announced that he will no longer be in the team's rotation.
Kemba Walker is out of the Knicks rotation “as of right now,” Tom Thibodeau says. He says he will tighten the rotation moving forward. “It would be tough to play three small guards together,” Thibodeau says. Says he has great respect for Walker and all he’s accomplished.
At first glance, the decision certainly seems premature. Walker, after all, is averaging a modest 11.7 points and 3.1 assists per game on 41% shooting from deep.
In a follow-up tweet, Katz did ultimately explain why the Knicks are benching the 4x All-Star.
A statistical summary of why the Knicks are pulling Kemba Walker from the rotation: Knicks have the best defense in the league when he’s on the bench (99.0 DRtg) & are dead last (116.3 DRtg) when he’s on the floor. They are 27th in offense with him playing, 9th with him off.
It's practically unheard of for a player to have such a dramatically negative impact on defense. And, unlike with a lot of other offensive players, Walker isn't providing nearly enough on the other end to make up for it.
Thibs did not specify who would replace Kemba in the starting lineup, but Alec Burks seems to be the easy answer.
Burks, who turned 30 in July, is no stud on the defensive end, either, but he's a much better fit for the team. In New York's 9-point win over the Hawks on Saturday, he dropped 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals per game on 41.2% shooting.
As a team, the Knicks are 7th in the East with an 11-9 record overall.