Despite getting passed over for the All-Star Game on multiple occasions, Jalen Brunson would still be open to taking part in the annual showcase if he were chosen as an injury replacement. There is a chance that Celtics wing Jaylen Brown (facial contusion) won’t be able to play.
“If I was ever invited, that’s an honor I couldn’t pass up,” Brunson said after pouring in 40 points in the Knicks’ 124-106 rout of the Nets at a sold-out Garden. “But I hope for his health and everybody that’s deserving. I said this past couple weeks, I control what I can control. That’s all that matters to me.”
Brunson is averaging 29.6 points while shooting 51 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3-point range over his last 19 games. He’s scored at least 30 points in three straight contests as well.
“I’ve said that before, it’s pretty obvious to all of us [he should be an All-Star] because we see him every night,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The unfortunate part of the All-Star thing is there’s not enough spots, so inevitably someone deserving gets left off. In my eyes, he’s an All-Star.”
Brunson was recently passed over by De’Aaron Fox of the Kings, Anthony Edwards of the Timberwolves and Pascal Siakam of the Raptors as an injury replacement.
There’s been one negative to the Josh Hart trade: It sent promising young guard Miles McBride to the bench.
The defensive-minded, second-year guard is now out of the rotation as Thibodeau sticks with a nine-man group, replacing McBride with Hart on the second unit. Thibodeau spoke to McBride about it, emphasizing the decision wasn’t made because of his play.
“He’s been great. He’s part of the group that came in. Phenomenal kid, great worker,” the Knicks’ coach said. “I know he’ll stay ready because that’s who he is. Just keep working, keep getting better, keep focusing on improvement. Just like it could happen this year when he got in there, did a really good job with the rotation. There will be situations where he plays.”
Averaging 3.6 points and 1.6 assists in 13 minutes, McBride entered into the rotation on Dec. 4 and remained a part of the second unit until Saturday’s win over the Jazz. His 14-point effort in a Feb. 5 come-from-behind win over the 76ers was one of the high points of his season thus far. He is one of their best defenders, producing a team-low 104.5 defensive rating. The Knicks have outscored the opposition by 6.4 points per 100 possessions when McBride is on the floor.
Mitchell Robinson (fractured right thumb) is making progress, according to Thibodeau, and remains on schedule to get cleared for contact during the All-Star break.
Robinson, who has missed the last 14 games, was getting work in before Monday’s game with a thumb-protecting sheath on his hand. The Knicks are going to practice twice before their first game after the break — Feb. 24 against the Wizards. Thibodeau didn’t say whether Robinson will need a few practices under his belt before returning to game action.