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LAS VEGAS – Although the Knicks selected Quentin Grimes in the first round of last month’s draft, he wasn’t exactly the featured guy on offense during the first two summer-league games at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard, who led the University of Houston to the Final Four in March, has taken a backseat to the Knicks’ two first-round picks from the 2020 Draft – Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin.
Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson has noticed Grimes struggling to adjust to the lesser role and to a point guard who isn’t exactly Chris Paul.
“Quentin has to learn he’s not the lead dog,’’ Sampson told The Post after viewing both contests. “It’s an adjustment for all these guys. The way you play in college, eventually you’ll get to that. Quickley is a shoot-first, shoot-second, shoot-third point guard. Toppin, you can tell there’s an interest in getting those two guys going. I can tell Quentin was nervous his first game too. Quentin will operate a lot better when you run stuff for him and let him make plays out of that.”
Ironically, the 21-year-old Grimes drilled his first shot on his first touch – a left-wing 3-pointer – but hasn’t seen many go down since.
In the two games, he’s gone 5 of 21 in combined shooting – 5 of 14 from 3. He’s put up nine points and six points, respectively. On the positive side, he has just one turnover in two games and was a team-high plus-16 in the Indiana win.
The Knicks (1-1) take on the Lakers on Wednesday at UNLV (10 p.m. EDT) and Sampson hopes Grimes is more assertive.
“I thought he was too passive,’’ Sampson said. “In summer league, it’s OK to be a little selfish. Don’t take bad shots but you have to look at your window of opportunity. If you give it up, it won’t come back his way. I know how aggressive he is and how good he will be. You shouldn’t draw conclusions based on summer-league games.’’
Grimes, who has a good-looking jump shot taught to him by his father — who played at Louisiana Tech — doesn’t seem worried.
“Really just keep shooting,’’ Grimes said. “You’re not going to make every shot. Some nights it’s not going to be your night, some night’s it is. I feel like everybody knows how good of a shooter I am. My teammates know. So all I got to do is stay in the gym and keep shooting, it’s going to fall for sure.’’
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau and president Leon Rose have yet to comment on Grimes, whom the Knicks picked No. 25 overall on July 29.
Grimes was looking like a one-and-done when he enrolled at Kansas three years ago as arguably the nation’s hottest recruit. He didn’t mesh well with the Jayhawks coaching staff and transferred after his freshman year to his hometown university, where he played two seasons.
“Quentin never said (he’d be one-and-done),’’ Sampson said. “You’re held victim by other people’s opinions. When he left Kansas and came here, the discussions we had was he always felt he needed more than one year.’’
Just as Grimes joined the Cougars, the program took a 10-day summer exhibition tour of Italy – Florence, Milan, Rome, Lake Como. Grimes bonded overseas with the new staff and teammates, Sampson said.
“He flipped over a new sheet and started drawing,’’ Sampson said. “He had the outline of something beautiful and special but it wasn’t finished. He put his pen down and walked away (from Kansas). Two years later he came back and you turn the lights on and look at the picture. Wow, look at that. some kids are late bloomers.’’
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