Josh Hart has provided a boost coming off the bench for the Knicks in each of his first three games — all victories — since his arrival in a trade-deadline deal with the Trail Blazers.
Hart, who is averaging 17.0 points in 26 minutes per game with the Knicks, was a starter in each of his 51 appearances this season with Portland, but coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t seem inclined to change what’s already working with his recently altered rotation.
“I know to you guys it’s a big deal. To me, I don’t get wrapped up in that,” Thibodeau said as the Knicks returned from the All-Star break Wednesday for practice. “He’s a good player. I look at [Immanuel] Quickley as a starter. I look at Josh as a starter. We have a bunch of guys that are capable of starting.
“Who’s going to finish [games] is probably going to depend on how it’s going that night and who’s going well, that sort of thing. Everyone’s got to sacrifice for the team. [Hart] has always done that. Just get in there. The team winning is the most important thing.”
Hart starting would mean a move to the second unit for either Quentin Grimes or even RJ Barrett, who is shooting 20.5 percent (9-for-44) from 3-point range over his past eight games and just 32.3 percent from long distance this season.
“Ups and downs, just like any other player in the league, but just really trying to get back and get everything going on all cylinders again,” Barrett said. “Really lock in and focus and be myself. … Keep fighting and playing hard and I’ll be all right.”
Asked if he believes the All-Star break gave Hart — his former Villanova teammate — a chance to acclimate himself to the area and the team, Jalen Brunson said: “I think it’s definitely gonna help, but I think him being thrown in the fire quickly kind of made him learn faster, too. I think with a little bit more time with the install that we can do now, it’s definitely gonna help. But he’s definitely jelling well with these guys.”
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