Former Celtics guard Kemba Walker out of Knicks rotation after 18 games

The Knicks have been significantly better with Walker off the floor.

Kemba Walker
New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker dribbles the ball against the Houston Rockets. AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

Former Celtics guard Kemba Walker is out of the rotation as a member of the Knicks, according to coach Tom Thibodeau.

Thibodeau told reporters on Monday that he planned to start Alec Burks in place of Walker after the Knicks beat the Hawks on Saturday with Walker sidelined.

“It’s a tough decision to make, but you always have to do what you think is best for the team,” Thibodeau said, per ESPN. “I view Kemba as a starter, and so it’d be tough to play three small guards together. I gave it consideration, and I’ve got great respect for who Kemba is as a person and all he’s accomplished in this league.


“But I have to do what I think is best for the team.”

While Walker’s shooting averages have been solid (he’s hitting 41.3 percent of his 3-pointers this season), the Knicks have been outscored by a catastrophic 27.2 points per 100 possessions when he is on the floor per Cleaning the Glass.

The Celtics traded Walker — who was often injured in Boston after a relatively healthy career in Charlotte — along with the No. 16 pick in the draft for Al Horford this offseason. At the time, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens — who had just assumed his new role — acknowledged how difficult the decision was.

“This is not the ideal first few weeks on the job, just because of the kind of person that Kemba is, the kind of professional he is, and how good of a player he is and continues to be,” Stevens said. “Lot of hard calls.”

Walker — who is a native of the Bronx — was enthusiastic about returning to New York.

“It’s the most unreal feeling,” Walker said during his introductory news conference in August. “Like, I can’t really explain it. I can’t really put it into words how amazing this feeling is being back home.”

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