Knicks rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley won’t start in Wednesday night’s season-opener against the Pacers — but Mitchell Robinson will
Quickley, who became a preseason revelation and started at point guard in the preseason finale, was set to come off the bench as head coach Tom Thibodeau stuck with veteran point guard Elfrid Payton.
Thibodeau said Quickley would still be in his 10-man rotation, indicating he could finish the game. The former Kentucky stud added electricity and outside shooting, the latter a major weakness of Payton’s.
“I think it’s a compilation of things,” Thibodeau said when asked why Payton would start. “It’s how things have gone in practice, the games, the way groups play with each other. And starting has never been as important as finishing for me. We’ll be looking at the different combinations, the guys that are playing well, performing well, they’ll be the guys that are out there.
“We have young guys that will continue to improve. We have the right veterans around them that can help teach the young guys the tricks of the trade. So we’re counting on everyone.’’
The only other minor surprise with his other starters was Reggie Bullock getting the call over Alec Burks at shooting guard. Burks missed the final two games for personal reasons as his wife gave birth.
Thibodeau says Bullock gives the club a little more 3-point shooting at the outset but the coaching staff has fallen for Burks, their top free-agent signing.
“I like both guys and they both have strengths that compliment each group,’’ Thibodeau said. “And I’m not sure yet if we’ll flip it again. But both guys are very effective with the starters and both guys are very effective with the bench. Both have a strong defensive presence. I think Alec is very good off the dribble and has playmaking capabilities. So I think that’s a good complement for that group. But we’re still sorting through that. Of course Reggie gives us the adding shooting that we need to open up the floor and terrific defense.”
Robinson excelled in starting the last two preseason games over Nerlens Noel, who was troubled by a knee injury. Robinson came on strong and didn’t register a foul in the preseason finale.