Sasha Vujacic can't seem to fall out of the Knicks' rotation almost no matter what he does. He misses shots, he stays in the game. He messes up a defensive assignment or rotation, and he remains out there. Vujacic isn't bringing the Knicks much or any positives. Yet, he keeps playing, and because of that, young talent is sticking to the bench.
During Sunday's evening's loss in Boston, Derek Fisher played Vujacic 15 minutes. Rookie Jerian Grant, meanwhile, didn't get off the bench. Here's how Fisher justified the minutes for the Machine, via ESPN's Ian Begley:
That's basically the old I'm-going-to-play-veterans-because-they're-veterans excuse. That alone doesn't make Fisher a bad coach. There are lots of coaches out there who subscribe to that philosophy, good and bad. But it does appear Fisher's priorities are out of sorts.
The Knicks are currently 14-18, have a 3-13 record against teams with winning records and are looking like far from a playoff team. Sure, they're much better than they were a season ago, but they're still far off the pace in the Eastern Conference. During this tough stretch they're in the midst of right now (11 consecutive games against teams who currently have winning records), they're going to find out exactly what they are and what they're not.
What they're not is a team that should be playing Vujacic, who basically brings no ability to the table. Actually, no team should be playing Vujacic. You can speak to the mental ability of someone who's played in the triangle before, but how valuable is that when said player is shooting 28 percent from the field and worse than 20 percent from three? How valuable is Vujacic's mental capacity when he constantly makes mistakes on defense. It's not that he struggles to guard one-on-one (which he does), but that he rotates to the wrong spot or picks up the wrong guys in the wrong spots in transition. He does it all the time. Yet, he stays out there, and Grant, the rookie who should be getting time to develop, rots on the bench.
Eventually, the Knicks need to sit Fisher's former teammate, and it is fair to question at this point if the Knicks coach is playing a guy who hadn't been in the NBA for five years coming into this season (save for a disaster of a 10-day contract with the Clippers two years ago) purely because they were once teammates together with the Lakers. It's a super awkward situation, and since Vujacic inexplicably inked a guaranteed contract at the start of this season, he's not going anywhere. He's going to be on the roster, no question. But that doesn't mean he needs to be getting consistent minutes.
“We're still trying to find a way to have five guys that are playing together, flowing together. Sasha obviously has familiarity and history with what we're trying to do offensively,” Fisher said. “We continue to search for how to get ourselves organized and we feel like Sasha gave us a chance to do so.”