DALLAS – There was something about Reggie Bullock that made him a Knicks glue guy last season – a spot-up 3-point shooter and the heartbeat of the defense.
Before the Knicks face their starting shooting guard from last season on Wednesday night, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau sounded wistful at the morning shootaround at SMU.
Bullock left the Knicks as a free agent, inking a 3-year, $30.5 million deal with the Mavericks last August.
“Reggie’s gonna help any team,” Thibodeau said. “That’s who he is. He’s got a skill in shooting; he spaces the floor for your best players. He’s a great defender, and he’s got length. He’s a long wing. Wherever he’s been, he’s always helped the team. He’s a team-first guy, so he’s a good player. He’s been a good player for a long time in this league.”
And now he’s a good player for the Mavericks, who are fifth in the Western Conference at 40-25. The Knicks have won two in a row but dropped seven straight before that and the wonderful chemistry – and league-leading defense – of last season has gone missing.
“I think those type of guys, they give your team a lot of heart and toughness,” Thibodeau said. “If you have a wing who’s a primary scorer, usually the other wing, there’s a defensive slant towards that wing, and the thing, like I said, he’s a team-first guy. You could start Reggie. You could bring him off the bench. And that’s the great value that we have in Alec [Burks].”
The Post reported in late September that Thibodeau was disappointed Knicks president Leon Rose didn’t find a way to bring Bullock back, especially since they could’ve used a Bird exception that wouldn’t have counted against the salary cap.
According to an NBA source, the Knicks hesitated at the start of free agency so Bullock took the Mavericks’ deal. The Knicks then made sure to lock up Burks, who now is the starting point guard after Kemba Walker shut it down for the season at the All-Star Break.
“I mean, that’s part of…I love Reggie,” Thibodeau said. “He’s a good player. When a guy earns the right to free agency, he has to do what he thinks is best for him and his family. I got great respect for him, so I wasn’t disappointed. I know that’s part of the business. For a guy who conducts himself the way he does, you’re always happy when they get good situations. So, I think he was a big part of what happened last year and a byproduct of when something good happens like that. Everyone’s value goes up.”
Last season, Thibodeau often mentioned Bullock as “the unsung hero”. This season, the Knicks are still looking for more heroes. Evan Fournier, the starting shooting guard the Knicks signed to a four-year, $78 million deal, has done his part as a long-range threat (14.3 points, including 39 percent from 3-point territory) but as one scout said, “ His man scores as much if not more than he does.”
Knicks forward Cam Reddish, diagnosed with a sprained right shoulder, left the team to go back to New York to get more tests – which doesn’t sound good. The ex-Hawk had been playing well on the current road trip but took a bad spill, landing on his head and shoulder as he went up to contest a Davion Mitchell shot in Sacramento on Monday. Asked if he could be out a while, Thibodeau said, “I don’t wanna comment until the doctors fully evaluate him and then as soon as we get that, then we’ll pass that along.”…Rookie shooting guard Quentin Grimes [out with a dislocated knee] made this road trip and is progressing fast, taking jump shots and ready to be cleared for the next contact practice Monday.”