Tom Thibodeau mentioned Wednesday night that Julius Randle was “chopped up,” but the COVID test that put him in quarantine surprised him.
“That’s what it is,” Thibodeau said. “There’s nothing you can do other than follow the guidelines. You want everyone to be healthy. You want them to be safe. That’s your first concern. Forget the basketball part of it, take care of yourself. . “
When Friday night’s 95-80 loss to the Thunder ended a few hours before the ball would fall on New Year’s Eve, Thibodeau noted that there would be no parties for the Knicks. “We’ve been trying to unbutton it more,” he said. “It’s almost a bubble mentality.”
Kemba Walker was a scratch at the last minute after Thibodeau said 90 minutes before game time that he would start on point guard. The Knicks said he has a sore left knee.
He played back-to-back matches in Minnesota and Detroit Tuesday and Wednesday, but saw only 20 minutes of action the second night.
Asked if Walker’s injury could be a serious problem, Thibodeau said: “I do not know. He started his warm-up, and then he stopped, so [trainers were] looking at him. Just felt like getting him examined, then we’re leaving. “
The Knicks got Evan Fournier back in line after sitting out Wednesday’s game with a sore right ankle.
Thibodeau praised his reserves and said: “It’s the great value of the guys who’ve been on the bench. They’ve done a great job, all of them. They’ve put in a lot of extra work. They come in early to put in work as a group and I think it has paid off. So once they are connected they are ready to go. They have been fantastic. Right now you see it all around the league. This is our reality. “
With Thunder coach Mark Daigneault in health and safety protocols, the task has gone to former NBA guard Mike Wilks, who played for Thibodeau when Thibodeau was assistant coach in Houston.
“Thibs actually trained me so I know what level of coach he is,” Wilks said. “There are going to be a lot of adjustments.”
“I trained him in Houston,” Thibodeau said. “Great. They have a great staff. It’s a great organization. Mark has done a great job, their entire staff is excellent. Mike was a great player, quality player, great teammate, just a great man on top of that.”
When their first 10 days expired on Friday, Damyean Dotson and Matt Mooney officially signed their second 10-day contract with the Knicks.