Stop whining about Payton starting

Knicks fans and certain people in the media blaming Elfrid Payton for Game 1 loss and calling for him to be benched is missing the point altogether. There are no viable options at point guard to supplant Payton to start to begin with.

Photo: Raj Mehta/USA Today Sports

New Yorkers love to air their grievances on Knicks point guard Elfrid Payton, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill deBlasio and Francisco Lindor.

They serve everything that is wrong with the city. In the case of Cuomo and deBlasio, they can’t do their respective jobs in their position and they destroyed New York with their incompetence. Lindor performed like a bust (hitting .185 and striking out 27 times) so far this season as he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts to show for it last night in the Mets’ 3-1 victory over the Rockies. Payton consternates Knicks fans by offering no scoring and defense when he starts.

Payton served as the goat in the Knicks’ 107-105 Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night in the Knicks’ first playoff game since 2013. He offered nothing as Trae Young scorched him early and often, not to mention he finished scoreless in eight minutes.

Knicks fans and certain people in the local media not only want Payton to not start anymore, but he should be benched for the rest of the series and beyond.

Payton served as a lightning rod for criticism all year long for being ineffective. Everyone wonders why he starts when he has no business playing. If Knicks fans had their way, he would have been released a long time ago.

Look, no one argues he stinks. He failed to score in double figures in 16 of his last 17 games, shooting 35-of-103 from the floor. His plus/minus over his last eight games is -56. He offered nothing this entire season if we are being honest.

Still, to blame this loss on him and calling him to not play is irrational at its finest. The Knicks lost because Julius Randle and RJ Barrett offered nothing. Randle shot 6-for-23 and Barrett shot 6-15. We should be focusing on that more than Payton’s play.

If the Knicks get nothing from Randle and Barrett, they are going to lose playoff games like they did in Game 1.

Payton makes no impact in games because he gets benched midway in the game for Derrick Rose. It’s been Tom Thibodeau’s formula to have Payton start and give decent minutes before giving it to Rose to play most of the game. It worked all season. To change the formula would be a sign of panic and giving in to the lunatic fringe. That’s not a way to coach an NBA team whatsoever.

Besides, what’s the better option? Rose can’t play 40 minutes anymore since he becomes ineffective once he gets past 28 minutes. His body can’t handle that many minutes anymore. Frank Ntilikina?  Give me a break. Alec Burks? He is good in spurts, but give him starting minutes and he gets exposed quickly. Immanuel Quickley? He ruins the flow of the offense by being a shoot-first, and he hasn’t exactly reminded anyone of Chauncey Billups.

There was a reason Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose tried to acquire Chris Paul. The Knicks don’t have a point guard that can create shots or make shots. It was telling they were desperate to acquire Rose, and fortunately, they got something out of him this season.

They still need a point guard if they want to achieve the objective of winning a championship. Maybe the Knicks can pry Damian Lilliard out of Portland, even though they really have nothing to offer to get him. Yes, Knicks fans, Barrett won’t get Lilliard here in a trade. As disgruntled as Donovan Mitchell is at the Utah Jazz about not playing him in Game 1 because of his ankle injury, he is not going anywhere, so forget that dream of him being a Knick.

I don’t know how the Knicks get a point guard. This is where Rose is getting paid to figure it out this offseason. Hope can’t be a strategy, either.

Until then, it does no good to blame Payton or wonder why he is starting. The Knicks have no choice but to sink or swim with him. Besides he rarely even plays in crunch time, so it’s amusing everyone is focusing on him. As Thibodeau said this season, it’s not about who starts, but who finishes in the end when the game matters.

It’s pointless to even worry about Payton or wonder why he is starting when he rarely plays most of the game.

Talking about Payton comes off as low-hanging fruit.

Be better than this, Knicks fans and certain people in the New York media.


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