Elfrid Payton, Austin Rivers not sweating Knicks point guard competition at training camp

Scott Thompson
·2 min read
313424450 051120  Elfrid Payton treated art
313424450 051120 Elfrid Payton treated art

With Knicks training camp underway, head coach Tom Thibodeau is evaluating the roster he currently possesses with the rest of his staff. Players like RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and first-round pick Obi Toppin are among those of importance.

But Thibodeau will also need to look at the point guard situation that will unfold. It’s expected to be the best competition out of camp with so many options to work with.

At the top of the pack is Elfrid Payton, who returns on a one-year deal with New York, and Austin Rivers, who had several teams to choose from but wanted to be part of this Knicks rebuild. Both players obviously want to spend the most time they can impacting the team on the floor.

But both players also took the high road when asked about wanting to start, beginning with the new guy in the building.

“If they start me, great. If they don’t, I’m still going to be in there competing every night,” Rivers said. “Regardless, for me it’s never been about starting the game. It’s been about finishing the game.”

Payton would have the upper hand in the whole competition, but no longer is David Fizdale or Mike Miller serving as head coach. But it still never crossed his mind that he will need to prove something to his new coaches. He is confident in his skill set and knows what he brings to the team.

“That didn’t even cross my mind. I’m not worried about anything like that. Coming in trying to do my job and that’s run the team. I know what I bring to the team, so as far as trying to stand out, that didn’t really cross my mind to be honest.”

But even knowing that he’d have to battle for playing time, Payton always wanted to come back.

“From the beginning, we always had intentions of me coming back. So I wasn’t really I guess worried,” he said.

Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr. and rookie Immanuel Quickley are all vying for playing time with these guards. So, while it will be interesting to see what Thibs ends up doing with this group, both Payton and Rivers will just keep their heads down and work for their playing time.

After all, it’s earned – not given.