Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has never liked forward Kevin Knox and his stint with the team since he was picked in the lottery in 2018 ended Thursday with his trade to the Hawks.
Kevin Knox Sr., Knox’s father who played wide receiver for Florida State and the NFL Bills, said some in the franchise raised eyebrows about why Knox never lucked out with Thibodeau.
“That’s a great question for Tom Thibodeau,” Knox Sr. told the Post when asked why he thinks Knox didn’t watch. “I think we’ve turned the corner. Everyone could see the progression of a young Kevin Knox where he wasn’t much of a defensive liability. I think Tom Thibodeau did a great job helping Kevin be a better defensive player. At some point, I think he became that. He always had this stroke and so it became confusing throughout the organization as to why he wasn’t playing Kevin.
Indeed, Knicks general manager Scott Perry was behind Knox’s drafting at No. 9 in 2018, when the team’s president was Steve Mills. Current chairman Leon Rose probably didn’t invest in Knox’s success. According to a source, some members of the club thought Knox should play.
Knox Sr. won’t blame Rose.
“It can be [a factor] but at the end of the day, it’s not the president calling the games,” he said. “It is not the president who makes the replacements. The president hires a trainer. This coach here obviously felt he could win games without Kevin Knox. To be able to go to another team, you can’t help but be excited because you can have the opportunity to have a chance to play meaningful minutes.
Knox, who hasn’t spoken to the media since preseason, would be thrilled with the trade, which will bring him closer to his hometown of Tampa, Florida.
“There aren’t many miles on the Rolls Royce,” Knox Sr said.
In trade, the Knicks received Cam Reddish, who asked Atlanta for more playing time, but landed in a similar deadlock.
“Kevin is excited,” said Knox Sr. “He sees an opportunity there, a faster offense to play with a point guard in Trae Young who is an All-Star. He gets in the lane and kicks people for open shots. Kevin is really excited to be coached by Coach Nate [McMillan]a proven coach who played in the league.
“Since he’s been in the league, Kevin has had three coaches, two presidents, new coaches. Nate sees a breath of fresh air for Kevin.
Knox has only played 13 games this season.
“We were looking for a different opportunity to play,” said Knox Sr. “I hope we found a coach who believes in us and in Kevin Knox’s talent and skills. It’s a relief.”
Knox was taken out of the Knicks’ rotation at the start of last season and then never had a chance in 2021-22.
The straw that broke the camel’s back, however, came last month when, after COVID-19 destroyed the team, Knox was needed as a backup forward and delivered against the Bucks and Warriors. Then, he caught COVID-19 and when he came back, he was back at the end of the bench.
“He came into the game after not playing and against Milwaukee he’s going 5 of 12 of 3,” Knox Sr said. “The next game he’s nine points and seven rebounds and then we don’t see Kevin anymore. I know it was very confusing for us.
“Agent Aaron Turner spoke to Atlanta’s general manager [Travis Schlenk]. It’s a trade that both sides wanted. Atlanta gets a first-round pick and a younger player the same age as Cam Reddish. We appreciate the opportunity.