Do me a favor, search “Cam Reddish” on Twitter and see what you find. Yes, I know Twitter is a place where a lot of idiotic and terrible takes call home – especially when it comes to sports, particularly the NBA. But, now and then, people come together in unity to form one tribe – like we all did on Sunday to roast Aaron Rodgers.
It happened on a granular level on Monday night as people were wondering why Cam Reddish received the one thing that all basketball players hate, a DNPCD – did not play, coach’s decision.
If you haven’t paid attention, this has been a season in which many of Tom Thibodeau’s “coach’s decisions” have been questioned, and Cam Reddish is just the latest example. After trading for the uber-talented, yet frustratingly inconsistent, 6-foot-8, 217-pound, 22-year-old out of Duke – while still early (2 games), it’s fair to wonder if Thibodeau has any idea what to do with the man that Anthony Edwards once proclaimed as “the hardest player he’s had to guard.”
Reddish made his debut on Sunday in a Knicks 110-102 win over the Clippers at the Garden. He scored 2 points, grabbed 2 rebounds, and “looked good” in 5 minutes of playing time. This is what Thibodeau had to say about Reddish after Sunday’s game, less than two weeks after the team acquired him:
“The one thing is just trying to establish a routine,’’ he explained. “When we were playing well, we pretty much had a nine-man rotation. But when I have opportunities to get him in, I want to get him in. And it was good just to let him get his feet wet a little bit. He’s working really well in practice. You never know in this league, you can have an injury (an ankle sprain) and the next thing you’re in there. I look at a guy like Quentin [Grimes]. He benefited from everyone being out, got in there, played well and he’s still in there.’’
Even if we give Thibodeau the benefit of the doubt when it comes to bringing Reddish along slowly because of his ankle, then why publicly tell us that he might not be in the rotation after trading for a player that fans were excited about after he’s only played five minutes for your franchise?
On Monday, the Knicks had a back-to-back and fell to the Cavs in Cleveland 95-93, as Reddish sat on the bench while Evan Fournier was 3-for-9, Alec Burks was 0-for-4, and Immanuel Quickley was 1-for-10, as they all played at least 18 minutes while Reddish sat.
Hawks fans are even concerned.
Check this out from Sports Illustrated’s “All Hawks Fan Nation,” about Reddish who was averaging 12 points in 24 minutes per game in Atlanta:
“Reddish went from a solid situation in Atlanta to an organization that seems unsure if they even want him. Unless something drastically changes, Reddish’s chances of a larger role and cushy payday are almost zero.”
Offense has never been Thibodeau’s calling card. If you don’t believe me, ask Bulls fans about the pain they suffered watching Derrick Rose & Co. wilt in the fourth quarter of playoff games because Thibs who kept drawing up failure after failure on the clipboard whenever they needed a bucket. He prides himself on defense and playing hard, which he’s great at. But, when it comes to making decisions about what the offense should be doing, there’s a lot to be desired. I mean, this is the same man that keeps letting Julius Randle run those frustrating isolation plays on the perimeter where those jab-step jumpers always seem to fall short.
For instance, the Knicks put up a terrible shot at the end of Monday’s game and Thibodeau’s defense was basically, “they took away our best option,” as if that isn’t what teams in the NBA aren’t supposed to do.
“They did a good job taking the corner away,” he explained. “There are three options on that play, and Julius ended up with a tough shot there.”
Earlier this season, Thibodeau benched fan-favorite Kemba Walker for no apparent reason for about a month. All Walker did was drop 29 points in his return to the starting lineup after sitting for weeks. Last season, before the Knicks got hot and made the playoffs, Austin Rivers was one of their best offensive players and had some big moments as a spark in the rotation. A few weeks later, Thibodeau inexplicably took him out of that same rotation, and he was eventually traded. Rivers eventually wound up in Denver — a better team playing in a better conference — and was a starter for the Nuggets in the postseason.
Outside of R.J. Barrett — who is pretty much untradeable — every time it seems like the Knicks have someone in the backcourt that did, can, or could give them a spark, Thibodeau finds a way to make sure they get a DNPCD. And as my colleague and Knicks fan Jesse Spector said, “The Knicks need to figure out what the hell they’re doing in a lot of ways, because it’s not tanking, but it’s also not contending.”
That last sentence pretty much sums up what the Knicks have been for the last decade, as an overhyped franchise that hasn’t won a title in almost 50 years. And if the Knicks want to build off the momentum from last season that ended in an embarrassing first-round exit to Cam Reddish’s old team, they should start by figuring out what to do with Reddish and determine if Tom Thibodeau is the coach they believe can rectify all the head-scratching situations he’s put them in.