Kevin Knox II smiled and acknowledged the obvious. No, his time with the Knicks didn’t go anywhere close to according to plan.
A former top-10 pick, Knox was supposed to be part of the solution. Instead, he was just another example of why the Knicks haven’t done much winning over the past two decades, a highly regarded draft prospect that didn’t meet expectations.
“I had my fair opportunity; didn’t make the best of it, unfortunately,” he said.
Friday night, he was back at the Garden to face the Knicks for the first time, now playing for the Pistons and eager to make his mark against the team that drafted and traded him. Knox ultimately made little impact in 11 minutes, scoring two points on 1 of 6 from the field as the Knicks won 130-106.
“Every game is a chip [on my shoulder], but this one is circled on my calendar, for sure,” Knox said. “This is my old team. Lot of my guys over there, but in between the lines, it’s a different story.”
Knox wanted to make it clear: He holds no grudge or ill will against the Knicks. He had his chances, opportunities he didn’t take advantage of. It was difficult adjusting to a new front office and coach that didn’t draft him, but Knox believed that coach Tom Thibodeau and team president Leon Rose gave him a shot.
“It is what it is. Gotta move on, gotta play harder, learn from it,” he said. “Learned a lot playing under Thibs, playing here in New York. I have to take it to my next chapter.”
Knox, signed to a two-year, $6 million deal by Detroit in the offseason, is looking forward, not back. He’s happy to be a Piston, excited for a chance with a new franchise that is rebuilding and giving extended looks to young players. In his first game on Wednesday, Knox didn’t shoot well coming off the bench, going 1-for-8 with three points and three rebounds in 13 minutes. But he is still working his way back from a calf injury.
“Kevin needs an opportunity, and this is an opportunity for him to get playing time,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We’re excited to have him.”
There was legitimate excitement over Knox after the Knicks selected the former Kentucky star with the ninth-overall pick in the 2018 draft. He shined in that year’s NBA Summer League, but his potential was never realized in New York as his playing time diminished each season after averaging 12.8 points in 57 starts as a rookie. The Knicks included him in the Cam Reddish trade in January, and he was lightly used by the Hawks the rest of last season.
“Guys make changes, teams make changes, bring guys in. I put it all on me,” Knox said. “I got to go out there and work harder, play better defense, all the narrative that they created. But I put it all on me. I got to go out there and play better, perform better. I have another opportunity here. so I’m going to go out there and show what I can do.
“We have a lot of young guys, a talented team, so I’m going to go out there and just play my best, play hard every night. …. I’m going to go out there and change the narrative.”