Cam Reddish
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks aren’t using Cam Reddish despite trading a first-round pick to land him.

Cam Reddish still exists, right?

He does? Great. It seemed worth it to ask because, as someone who is paid to keep an eye on the New York Knicks, the former Duke Blue Devil hasn’t done much since being traded from the Atlanta Hawks.

Reddish arrived in the Big Apple on Jan. 13. Since then, he has played 20 minutes in three games and scored 12 points in a Knicks uniform. The former first-round pick hasn’t had the prettiest NBA career, but showed improved shooting this year before dropping from the Hawks’ rotation.

Meanwhile, New York has gone 3-8 since the trade while barely using Cam Reddish. His friend and college teammate, RJ Barrett, is the Knicks’ star player who waxed poetic about the team trading for Reddish. Coach Tom Thibodeau has stuck to his lineup, insisting from the start that Reddish has to “earn his minutes.”

We’ve all seen it this season, folks. Whatever Thibodeau’s plan is, no matter how hard his team plays on a given night, it isn’t winning games. Cam Reddish has plenty to bring to the table and is dressing nightly to sit on the bench and cheer on his teammates. He isn’t the key to what ails New York by any means, but why is he even here if he isn’t going to be used?

 

The Knicks lineup needs tweaking

As I write this, the Knicks are less than 24 hours removed from a tough overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Their starting lineup on Saturday was as follows:

  • PG: Kemba Walker
  • SG: Evan Fournier
  • SF: RJ Barrett
  • PF: Julius Randle
  • C: Mitchell Robinson

Do not think of the combined 68 points Randle and Barrett scored to keep the Knicks in the game despite second-half three-point woes. Forget Mitchell Robinson’s elite defense. Anyone who has watched New York this year knows this is an unsustainable lineup.

In fairness to Thibodeau, much of sticking with the current starting five is out of necessity. Walker has not adjusted well to playing off the ball, but no one else can really run the point while Derrick Rose recovers from ankle surgery.

Fournier, too, has struggled to fit into the system and might be a better sixth man, but Alec Burks is too valuable off the bench as a swingman. Plus, Fournier has about 73 million reasons not to sit on the bench.

Unfortunately, things are coming to a head this season. The Knicks are 24-29, 12th in the East, and somehow only 1.5 games out of the playoff play-in. About two months remain in the regular season, and it’s not too late for the team to go on a run and sprint into the playoffs.

 

Cam Reddish fits the lineup better

What if Thibodeau made one simple adjustment and instead of keeping Reddish on the shelf for whatever reason, actually gave him significant minutes? Granted, this would probably have to. wait until Rose returns, but makes more sense given the rest of the lineup.

At some point, Walker is either traded or outright benched and Burks starts at the point. The rest of the lineup stays the same, but with one key difference: Evan Fournier becomes the sixth man and Cam Reddish starts.

The reasons for this are two-fold. First, the Knicks sorely miss Reggie Bullock’s presence as a three-and-D. Reddish is a competent enough defender, though there’s room for improvement, and can function as a shooter in Thibodeau’s offense.

More importantly, Cam Reddish is 6’8″, 218 pounds with a 7’1″ wingspan. If he focuses his efforts on defense, he could create mismatches that work to his team’s advantage. And on offense, like we said before, just threes. That’s his only job.

 

Final thoughts

Is it an unconventional idea? Absolutely. Consistency has not been Reddish’s friend in his young career. Given what Thibodeau demands from his players, he probably doesn’t want Reddish getting important minutes unless he feels he can be productive with them.

But it doesn’t take NASA’s best to see that this New York Knicks lineup is not working. Let’s go one step further and say it’s outright broken. Busted. Kaput. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

And regardless of if the Knicks make a trade by Thursday’s deadline and unclog the rotation a bit, one thing is certain. Cam Reddish is too young and too talented to ride the pine. Even if he only cost Kevin Knox and a first-round pick acquired from Charlotte in last year’s draft, at least give him a fair shot.

At worst, Cam Reddish struggles and putting him in the rotation doesn’t change much of anything.

But at best, he could be the medicine the Knicks lineup needs, and maybe enough to finish this frustrating season on a high note.

Josh Benjamin is a Bronx native who lives and breathes the New York Yankees despite being born into a family full of Mets fans. He is the MLB Editor at RealSport and considers himself a student of the game. When not writing, he can be found either at Yankee Stadium or deep in discussion with his fellow sports nuts.