The Knicks fell short against the Trail Blazers in Sunday’s NBA Summer League final, but there are still positives to take away from Las Vegas.
Quentin Grimes popped as a creator. Jericho Sims showcased his highlight-reel athleticism. And Deuce McBride is showing promise as an unconventional 3-and-D player.
Here are four post-Summer League thoughts.
Quentin Grimes has a real shot to start. He was one of the best players in Las Vegas, even if his last game was his worst. Although many fans and media would like to put him into a box as a 3-and-D guy, he showcased a little more wiggle than that. Don’t expect him to become a high-level shot creator anytime soon, but he should be able to beat closeouts off the dribble.
At worst, Grimes looks like he can be a solid rotation player. His defense and three-point gravity can play off the bench, but he could wind up in the starting lineup sooner rather than later. There is a groundswell around Grimes starting — if he’s still on the team come opening night.
Notable Vegas storyline—Quentin Grimes' breakout. Averaging 24 PTs, 4.3 ASTs, 1.7 STLs through 3 games. Looks a level above everyone else. Value obviously tied to shotmaking but he's delivered lot more 2PT play finishing + setting up teammates. Feels like Knicks next starting SG. pic.twitter.com/fG5FEoGu1o
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) July 12, 2022
While Evan Fournier is the more accomplished player with a hefty contract, Grimes is a better defender. Flip-flopping those two would improve the starting five’s defense while simultaneously giving Fournier the freedom to attack second units. But this debate might be a moot point anyway.
But Grimes could be gone soon. Have Knicks fans heard about this guy Donovan Mitchell? The package looks like it’s going to be centered around draft capital because Jazz CEO Danny Ainge loves picks. However, according to reporting from Shams Charania of The Athletic and other outlets, the Jazz love Grimes. If he’s the sticking point in a Mitchell deal, expect the Knicks to make the move.
The back-and-forth between the Knicks and Jazz could go on for a while. It’s hard to see the Jazz going into the season with Mitchell on the roster. If Utah wants to have any chance at Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson in the 2023 NBA Draft, Mitchell has to go.
Ainge is notoriously stubborn in these types of trade negotiations, but the Knicks have the most to offer in a potential Mitchell deal. Who blinks first: Danny Ainge or Leon Rose?
Jericho Sims is solid depth at center. After a strong first few games for Sims, Knicks fans were already dreaming big for the 23-year-old. His leaping ability, quick feet, and overall athleticism were on full display in Las Vegas.
With all that said, his only path to a spot in the rotation is with an injury. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. He’s fantastic depth at center. Mitchell Robinson (four years, $60 million) and Isaiah Hartenstein (two years, $16 million) are ahead of Sims (three years, $5.6 million) on the depth chart.
At some point, Robinson or Hartenstein will get hurt. That’s the nature of the beast in the NBA. When that happens, the Knicks will be happy to have Sims.
Deuce McBride is the man in the middle. Grimes and Sims are NBA players right now. Whether or not anyone else from the Knicks’ summer league team is an NBA player is debatable. Trevor Keels and Feron Hunt will spend a ton of time in Westchester — technically Bridgeport because the Westchester Knicks play in Connecticut. Jean Montero is another one who will be in Connecticut after signing an Exhibit 10 deal.
But let’s talk about Deuce McBride, who is somewhere in the middle of this debate between Keels/Hunt/Montero and Grimes/Sims. McBride tore it up in his six G League games last season (27.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 10.8 apg on 46/48/79 shooting splits). He’s clearly better than the G League, but is he ready for a real role on the Knicks?
This is a cop-out answer, but maybe? He’s not a point guard who can run the offense, but the Knicks (as it stands) have Jalen Brunson, Immanuel Quickley, and Derrick Rose for that. McBride doesn’t attack the paint enough to fill that role yet.
However, he’s a strong defender who won’t embarrass himself on the offensive end. If he’s knocking down threes and playing strong defense, he’s a potential 3-and-D player, even if he’s not a wing. Much like Sims, McBride can find his way into the rotation when injuries happen. In all likelihood, he’ll be back and forth between Connecticut and MSG, waiting for his opportunity.