For at least two nights, Kemba Walker flashed what New York Knicks management initially hoped they would get from the 31-year-old, four-time All-Star who made a grand homecoming entrance over the summer.
After posting 29 points in Saturday’s loss to the Boston Celtics, Walker followed it up with 21 points in nearly 40 minutes with eight rebounds and five assists in the Knicks’ 105-91 victory over the Detroit Pistons Tuesday night.
“I had a lot of fun,” Walker said. “I’ll continue to have a lot of fun for as long as I’m out there.”
These two games were Walker’s first action since Nov. 26 (10 games) after he fell out of the Knicks’ rotation with head coach Tom Thibodeau looking for more size and defense in his backcourt.
Rather than Walker — who has seen injuries derail his All-Star career in recent seasons — Thibodeau went with Alec Burks to supplement a rotation that also consists of Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley getting regular minutes.
The intriguing emergences of youngsters in Miles McBride and Quentin Grimes also take more minutes from Walker, which is why he had been rooted to the bench.
But the Knicks’ recent run-in with COVID made playing Walker more of a necessity as Thibodeau simply ran out of other options. Despite the point guard’s solid showing, expect the rotation to return to life without Walker once Rose, Quickley, McBride, and Grimes return.
Meanwhile, Walker has remained the consummate professional — which will help his trade value as much as these last two games.
“I am just being myself and trying to do what I can to keep us upbeat,” Walker said. “I think that is a little bit of what the team has been missing over the course of the season is just the
overall joy for the game. I am trying to do my best to keep us upbeat and positive
especially when things aren’t going our way, that is when you need to stick together the
“I’ve had a lot of fun these last two games.”