With New York shorthanded, he returned to the starting lineup Saturday – and scored 29 points in a loss to the Celtics.
Walker, Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports:
“I hate it. I want to play. … I don’t know what the future holds, you know? I do feel like I have a lot to give still. I don’t know. That’s up to these guys.”
“I know I should be playing, so no question. It feels great,” Walker said when asked if it felt good to make a statement with his play. “But whatever situation I’m in, I’m gonna stay locked in, stay prepared. Whatever the team needs from me, I’ll be there for them.”
Has Thibodeau explained anything about why this has happened?
“No sir,” Walker said.
Have you talked to him at all during the nine straight DNP-CDs?
Were you confused by that?
“Was I confused?” Walker said. “No. I’m not starting, I ain’t playing,” Walker said. “So I’m here for my team, I’m here for my teammates. I can’t say it enough. Whatever’s asked of me that’s what I’m here for.”
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has a reputation for not always seeing the forest for the trees. Obsessing over lineup construction and overlooking communication would be an example of that.
Walker is a forgiving person who puts the team first. But it’s not good to take advantage of that. Walker’s patience is clearly being tested.
The 31-year-old has declined considerably from his star peak. Undersized with less mobility than before, he has defensive shortcomings that probably grind Thibodeau.
But it definitely appears Walker can still help a team in the right role. Benching him didn’t solve New York’s problems. Against Boston, the Knicks outscored the Celtics by five in Walker’s 37 minutes (and got outscored by 12 in the other 11).
Yet, it’s unclear whether Walker will stick in the Knicks’ rotation once they get healthy.