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With Knicks eliminated from playoffs, Rambis to stick with old man starting backcourt


during the first half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on March 9, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

Christian Petersen

I come from this crazy school of thought that the best way to develop young players is to play them. You need to coach the guy up, you can’t be soft on him, but if the goal is to bring a guy along to be a quality NBA player you need to give him minutes against other NBA players at game speed. Particularly, do it in situations where it’s not going to hurt the team’s record or standing. For example, when your team is out of the playoff chase.

Enter the New York Knicks. They have been mathematically eliminated from the postseason in the East.

So what is coach Kurt Rambis going to do with his “veteran” (read: old, slow) backcourt of Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic? From Marc Berman at the New York Post.

Rambis said despite official playoff elimination, he will stick with the same starting lineup and not elevate rookie point guard Jerian Grant, who went scoreless (0-for-3) with three assists in just 10 minutes against the Pelicans, and was benched in the second half....

“I just didn’t like the way things were going in terms of organizing the offense,’’ Rambis said. “I wanted more experience on the floor....

“I have not been told (to start Grant) by anybody in the organization,” Rambis said. “The matchups are probably better suited for him coming off the bench, and he’s learning things. Getting out and seeing situations is good for him. Like all young players, he’s making mistakes. We’re working with him to correct those mistakes. It’s going to be this year a learning process. It’s still the toughest position in the NBA to learn.”

Calderon and Vujacic are likely not going to be back with the Knicks next season. If they are Phil Jackson is going to have to deal with a mob of angry Knicks fans carrying pitchforks and torches. That same mob could form if Rambis is brought back, even if Jackson likes him.

It’s not clear yet what kind of player Grant is going to be, he’s shown flashes, but his shot needs a lot of work — he struggles to finish at the rim over length (49.3 percent inside three feet), and he’s hitting just 19.2 percent from three. But now is when you find out a little more and give him a real chance.

Another guy not seeing a minutes boost is Arron Afflalo. Berman speculates the Knicks are bringing the veteran free agent to be off the bench to depress his market value so they can re-sign him this summer. That sounds like a very Knicks thing to do.