Kemba Walker unsure of future after Knicks benching: ‘I have no choice but to live with it’

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  • New York Knicks
    New York Knicks
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  • Kemba Walker
    Kemba Walker
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  • Tom Thibodeau
    Tom Thibodeau
    Basketball coach from the United States

Kemba Walker’s start with the New York Knicks didn’t go well.

Now, one week after he was benched and removed from the Knicks’ rotation, Walker said he has no idea what comes next for him both in New York and beyond.

“It was tough, obviously, because as a competitor, I love to play basketball,” Walker said Monday, via the New York Post. “I love to be on the court. This is the first time this has happened to me in my career, pretty much on any level. But at the end of the day, I have respect for Coach Thibs and the decision he made. It might not have been an easy one, but it was a choice he made. I have no choice but to live with it.”

Tom Thibodeau benched Kemba Walker to ‘do what’s best for the team’

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau pulled Walker completely from the Knicks’ rotation and benched him last week ahead of their game against the Brooklyn Nets.

He hasn’t played since.

Walker was averaging 11.7 points and 3.1 assists per game this season in New York, both career-lows for the 11-year veteran. Alec Burks took Walker’s spot in the Knicks’ starting lineup.

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

What happens next for Walker is still anybody’s guess. The 31-year-old signed a two-year, $18 million deal with the Knicks before the season started.

While he’s admittedly in a frustrating situation, Walker is trying to handle it positively. As long as he’s still with the Knicks, he’s going to be right there on the bench.

“I could be pissed. I could be upset,” Walker said, via the New York Post. “But at the end of the day, there’s some young guys here who look up to me. I’m pretty sure they wanted to see how I reacted to the situation. Anybody on my team down the line can be in the same situation. Maybe I can be a role model in that aspect.

“It was tough, but at the end of the day, it’s just not about me. I’m a team guy first, I’ve always been — you can ask anybody who I’ve ever played with. I’ve always been a team guy first. I love being around my teammates. I’m going to cheer them on until I can’t anymore. That’s what it’s about.”

Kemba Walker of the New York Knicks
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau pulled Kemba Walker out of the rotation last week after a tough start to the season. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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