As the Knicks’ season opened Wednesday at the Garden, they became undermanned even further at center as Taj Gibson was to miss the Celtics game due to “personal reasons.”
“Good personal reasons,” coach Tom Thibodeau added.
With center Nerlens Noel also out, that thrust Mitchell Robinson into the starting-center role and gave the possibility of Thibodeau using active second-round rookie center Jericho Sims.
Thibodeau’s other option was using a smallball lineup that looked good in the preseason finale of Obi Toppin at small forward and Julius Randle moving to center.
Sims, selected No. 58 in the draft out of Texas, was a hit in summer league with his live-wire nature and rebounding. He had a good start to preseason but didn’t play the final six quarters.
“The approach is so important, readiness, you never know when you’ll be called upon,” Thibodeau said. “We had Nerlens out and Jericho was able to get some minutes and Mitch was out early on. We also had the opportunity to look at Obi and Julius together as well. We’ll see how it unfolds. We’ll see what the matchups are on the floor – big or small.”
Thibodeau wouldn’t give a timetable on Gibson’s return. Robinson, recovering from a broken foot, played just the preseason finale and logged 27 minutes. Thibodeau said he’s still being monitored.
Last week, Sims’ former Texas head coach Shaka Smart told Post Sports+ why Sims fell.
“I think people sometimes overcomplicate the draft,” Smart said. “Maybe they were looking for reasons not to draft Jericho instead of reasons to draft him. The Knicks really liked him throughout the pre-draft process. It was great for Jericho and great for the Knicks he ended up there.”