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Knicks' Quentin Grimes Putting Best Foot Forward in New Opportunity

Quentin Grimes' return to extended minutes was one of the few silver linings of the New York Knicks' dreary visit to Phoenix.

Quentin Grimes had to work overtime on Sunday afternoon, but he's hardly complaining.

The New York Knicks' 2021 first-round pick had 39 minutes on his sophomore ledger entering Sunday's visit to Footprint Arena but wound up playing 32 when pressed into a start against the hosting Phoenix Suns. Having fallen out of the nine-man rotation popularized by head coach Tom Thibodeau (thanks in part to a foot injury that cost him almost all of the preseason), Grimes took full advantage of a starting five entrance at shooting guard medically induced by Cam Reddish's sore groin. 

The Houston alum took full advantage of an extended opportunity, earning 10 points, five rebounds, and a career-best eight assists. His progress will likely be forgotten in the long run ... a listless second half in a 116-95 loss will do that ... but it drew the positive attention of his compatriots.

"He’s always playing the right way," Jalen Brunson, he of a game-high 27 in defeat, said of Grimes' efforts. "He’s always doing what he does. (Sunday was) nothing out of the ordinary. He’s very capable of having these types of games. So I’m happy to see him healthy and doing good.”

At least in terms of Grimes' individual performance, the Knicks (8-9) certainly hope that Sunday is a sign of things to come. He was undoubtedly the star of the Knicks' offseason, standing as the main attraction behind the team's runner-up effort in Summer League play in Las Vegas. Further notoriety awaited when Grimes' name began a staple of the ultimately futile efforts to lure Donovan Mitchell to New York. Rumor has it that Mitchell's new Cleveland dwelling is thanks in part to the Knicks' insistence on keeping him out of the proceedings. 

That type of offseason activity, as well as his first-round status, will certainly make the actual season heavier in terms of expectations both domestically and abroad. Grimes' completely falling out of the rotation (held to two minutes over the first three games of the Knicks' road trip) served as a bleak statement in the midst of metropolitan mediocrity. 

The guard himself, however, never lost hope. 

“I don’t think I ever thought I blew (my chance),” Grimes said. “I know who I am and what I can do. I know the way Thibs feels about me, and how the organization feels about me. I just had to wait for my opportunity, and it was gonna come. Our team in general somebody is going to get hurt, nicked up.”

“It’s been tough, just knowing the expectation I’ve had for myself coming in," he continued. (I'm) just trying to deal with the foot and just trying to maintain and stay strong mentally and be professional and do whatever Coach asks of me and stay ready. That’s what I’ve had to do to approach coming into today."

Grimes filled in serviceably for Reddish, working with Brunson to keep the Knicks in the game against the Western Conference's defending top seed. It was enough to impress the notoriously hard-to-please Thibodeau, who gave Grimes 30 minutes on only seven occasions last season.

"(He was) efensively strong, (had) a lot of pop to his game, good playmaking," Thibodeau said. "(He) hit the open man, created a lot of good situations for us.”

With Reddish still listed as day-to-day (along with Derrick Rose), it's possible that Grimes will get another opportunity to impress when the Knicks close a five-game road trip against the Oklahoma City Thunder (8 p.m. ET, MSG). 

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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