Quentin Richardson Grateful to Join Knicks
After spending much of the season as an unsigned free agent, he’s truly grateful for the opportunity that the Knicks have given him. He’s thrilled to once again don the orange and blue jersey and participate in the playoffs. During his first stint with New York, which spanned from 2005 to 2009, he was a starter. Now, he’s at the end of the bench, but he’s willing to do whatever he can to help the Knicks this postseason.
The 33-year-old was waived just before the start of the regular season by the Orlando Magic. The team wanted to go young and chose to carry another rookie – DeQuan Jones – rather than another veteran. Even though Richardson had over $5 million and two years remaining on his contract, he was the odd man out.
After being waived by the Magic, Richardson bounced back and forth from Orlando and his hometown Chicago, all the while “working out, staying ready and waiting for a call.” He had discussions with several other NBA teams, but said that “nothing ever came to fruition.” Then, last weekend, Richardson finally received the call that he had been waiting for all season long.
“I was actually in L.A. at the time and I got wind of it around 6 a.m. in the morning,” Richardson told HOOPSWORLD in a phone interview. “My agent, Jeff Wechsler, gave me a call and he was like, ‘Well, I told you to stay in shape. Somebody wants to work you out.’ I asked, ‘Who?’ He said, ‘The Knicks.’ I was just like, ‘Wow!’ I had to wake up because I was half asleep. He started to tell me what was going on and then things progressed so quickly throughout the day. It was a quick timeline, like bam, bam, bam. I had a 4:30 p.m. flight from LAX to JFK, got in at 1:15 a.m. and got out here to my hotel in White Plains at 2:30 a.m. Then, I was up early the next morning around 7 a.m. to get a physical and then I was at the gym around 11 a.m. I was officially a Knick again. It was crazy. I have the best agent. Period.”
Richardson understands his role and knows he likely won’t play a lot of minutes during the postseason. However, he’s ready to contribute on the court if his number is called. He played in the Knicks’ final regular season game and grabbed 10 rebounds. He also played during the final minutes of New York’s convincing win over the Boston Celtics in Game 2.
“Right now, I do understand that I’m basically being brought as in a 14th or 15th man, myself and Earl Barron,” Richardson said. “Whether or not we play a lot, we’re just here to do whatever we can do to help the team. That’s my whole outlook on everything. If I play and get in the game, I’m definitely going to play as hard as I can and give everything I can to help my team win. First and foremost, if I play, my number one goal is to have a defensive mindset. I mean, we have the leading scorer in the NBA on our team in Carmelo Anthony and we have J.R. Smith who is the Sixth Man of the Year. We have enough guys who can put the ball in the basket. My number one mindset is defense, and if I get open shots when I’m spacing the floor and doing things like that, I’ll take them and try to knock them down.”
However, even if Richardson doesn’t play a single minute for the remainder of the playoffs, he still believes he can help the Knicks from the bench. During his two years in Orlando, Richardson developed a reputation as a leader and strong locker room presence. He wants to do the exact same thing in New York, regardless of the minutes he plays.
“I’ve played in this league for 13 years and I know the Celtics players, all of the main key guys,” Richardson said. “I know what they do and how they play. Even if I’m not out there, I feel that I have a lot of knowledge to offer up from the sidelines. If I’m on the sidelines, I’ll point out certain things and give tips. Anything I can do to help, I’m all in. I’m definitely thankful to God and to the Knicks organization – Jim Dolan and everyone here – for bringing me back here. I’m going to do everything I can for this team, whether I play or not, because I’m absolutely appreciative of this opportunity.”
“I’m not going to be someone who is going to be a distraction if I don’t play,” Richardson added. “I’m just here completely to be a part of the team and do whatever it takes to help the Knicks advance and get better. Whether that’s me being on the court battling for loose balls and taking charges or me just trying to help by saying the things that I see and being there for everybody’s needs, I’m all in for whatever. I’m completely humbled and appreciative of this opportunity. It’s just a blessing.”
Richardson doesn’t just know the Celtics’ key players, he has history with them. In 2008, Richardson and Paul Pierce were ejected from a game and their confrontation continued in the tunnel after they left the court. During the 2010 playoffs, Richardson got into a scuffle with Pierce and Kevin Garnett. After the game, Richardson made headlines when he referred to Pierce and Garnett as “actresses.” There is also bad blood between Richardson and Miami HEAT forward LeBron James, whom the Knicks will likely have to beat in order to become Eastern Conference champions. Richardson admitted that “it’s possible” his beef with Pierce, Garnett and James contributed to his signing, and he’s hoping he’ll get the chance to defend them at some point.
“As a competitor, who wouldn’t like to [face those players]?” Richardson said of playing against Pierce and possibly James later in the postseason. “I’m a competitive guy and I take that as a huge challenge. If I get to go in there and get a chance to affect the game by playing those guys tough and making it hard for them, I’ll do it. I’ve been doing this for years. You mention those guys, they’re high volume shooters and they’re going to score their points, but my goal is to go out there and make it as tough and as hard as possible, make them work their butts off to get those points and don’t give them anything easy. Whenever I go out there, whoever I’m playing against and guarding is going to have to bring their lunch pail because I’m going to play as hard as I can and give everything I’ve got out there.”
Richardson says that this is one of the most talented teams he has played on, right up there with the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns that went to the Western Conference Finals. That team featured Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and Shawn Marion alongside Richardson. While that team was stacked, so are this year’s Knicks, according to Richardson.
“I’ve only been here for a few days, but I’ve been watching them all year and this is definitely a highly, highly talented group of guys,” Richardson said. “You just look at Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd (a Hall of Famer), Kenyon Martin, who I got drafted with, Marcus Camby and the list goes on and on. Everywhere you turn, there’s a high-caliber, high-talent player. It’s definitely one of the best teams that I’ve been on. … The only team that I think is even close was my Phoenix team, with the MVP Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire.”
Richardson is ecstatic to be in New York and he’s going to enjoy every second of the Knicks’ postseason run. After waiting out almost the entire regular season, Richardson is glad to be back on an NBA team and he’s ready to do anything that is asked of him to show the Knicks his appreciation.