Knicks fall to Trail Blazers in Summer League championship

Knicks' Miles McBride, center, attempts a shot against Trail Blazers' Brandon Williams, left, and Trendon Watford, right, during the first half the NBA summer league championship.
Knicks’ Miles McBride, center, attempts a shot against Trail Blazers’ Brandon Williams, left, and Trendon Watford, right, during the first half the NBA summer league championship.
AP Photo/John Locher

The Knicks lost in the NBA’s Summer League championship game on Sunday, as the youngsters with the Portland Trail Blazers topped New York 85–77 in their final contest. 

An event held each year for budding NBA players and professional hopefuls looking to make their name, the Summer League in Las Vegas allows teams to assess potential players for their rosters and give playing time to those who are often relegated to the bench during the 82-game regular season. 

Through the first 4 games of Summer League action, the Knicks and Trail Blazers were granted a spot in the finals with a 3–1 record, and a better point differential than other teams with the same record (the Knicks only previous loss also came to the Trail Blazers 88–77 on Monday). 

But while desperate Knicks fans may have gotten their hopes up for some good news after years of NBA mediocrity, it wasn’t to be found in their team’s Summer League finals game. 

Shooting Quentin Grimes, who has been among the best players in Summer League this year, put up a respectable 16 points, along with 3 assists and 6 rebounds — though that marked a slight downgrade from his play in the first 4 games, when he had averaged 23.5 points per game on 43.7% shooting heading into the final contest.

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Ironically, Grimes is considered a valuable asset in any trade the Knicks could make to acquire Utah Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell — who New York has been linked to in recent trade rumors. His Summer League performance may help the team possess more leverage in those negotiations. 

Miles McBride, meanwhile, added another 17 points and 6 rebounds, which comes after averaging similar numbers in previous games. McBride’s play has given observers hope that he would potentially add a solid backup presence to newly-signed Jalen Brunson, should Immanuel Quickley be included in any trade and Derrick Rose continue to deal with injury.

A low point for the Knicks’ finals performance, their second-round draft pick Trevor Keels scored just 3 points in 26 minutes on the floor, while turning the ball over multiple times — and often looked lost against stronger professional competition than his time at Duke. He signed with the team on a two-way contract, and will still likely get a chance to play at Madison Square Garden. 

Still, 5 Knicks players — Grimes, McBride, Feron Hunt, Jericho Sims and Micah Potter finished with double-digit points in the game.

Hunt, a small forward who went undrafted in 2021, played last year in the G-League, and is a potential threat to make the team’s roster when the season starts in October. 

On the other side of the ball, Portland was led by point guard Brandon Williams, who recorded 22 points on 5–9 shooting, as well as big man Trendon Watford’s 19 points. Forward Jabari Walker was the only other Blazer in double digits. 

This is the first season when the Summer League champion will be fitted for a championship ring — but, as Knicks fans have become used to in recent decades, that victorious jewelry will not be headed to New York.