New York Knicks point guard Kemba Walker has been taken out of the starting rotation, according to Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Kemba Walker opened his first season with the Knicks coming out strong with a revenge game win over his former Boston Celtics.
One month into the season, Walker is already out of the starting rotation in favor of Alec Burks, according to Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Kemba Walker loses spot in starting Knicks rotation
Although the Knicks opened the 2021-22 season with an impressive win streak, their five-man starting lineup has lagged on defense, resulting in nine losses thus far.
In a Nov. 12 game against the Charlotte Hornets, the Knicks “bench mob” outperformed their starting lineup, which had the worst defensive rating of any 5-man lineup in NBA history until that point.
Meanwhile, the lineup consisting of Immanuel Quickley, Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, Obi Toppin, and Taj Gibson was the most efficient 5-man lineup in the NBA with at least 50 minutes played.
Still, it is a shocking decision for New York, who signed Walker to a two-year, $17.9 million deal in August.
The 31-year-old Walker is just a year older than Burks, who is currently on his sixth NBA team. Burks has been on the Knicks since 2020, starting five games of 49 games played in the 2020-21 season.
So far this season, Burks’ field goal percentage is slightly better than last year’s percentage (42.6 percent compared to 42.0 percent), but his 3-point percentage has improved (45.1 percent compared to 41.5 percent).
Thibodeau said that “it would be tough to play three small guards together,” and the 6-foot-6 Burks has a distinct advantage over the 6-foot Walker.
The numbers prove that Walker is trudging toward the end of his career — as long as he’s not playing, Knicks lineups are plus-14 per 100, according to CBS Sports.
Described as being unable to “defend his shadow”, Walker is a shell of the player he once was, which forced Thibodeau to make the difficult decision to bench him for the time being.
With Walker benched, the Knicks may finally be making the uncomfortable move to making their bench mob the starting squad.