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Just play Jimmer: Knicks have little to lose by putting him on the court

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Fredette's D-League production led to signing with Knicks (1:44)

ESPN Knicks reporter Ian Begley discusses how the Knicks intend to use former No. 10 overall pick Jimmer Fredette. (1:44)

"I think I just need to be able to get some consistent time and some consistent minutes. I haven't been able to find that in any of the places I've been."

This was a quote from Jimmer Fredette in December, prior to his first game with the New York Knicks' D-League club, the Westchester Knicks.

Fredette has bounced around the NBA the past four seasons. All he was hoping for was another chance to prove his worth. That's why he found himself in White Plains, New York. Then last month, it appeared Fredette was going to finally find another shot at the NBA.

The Knicks inked Fredette to a 10-day contract shortly after the All-Star break to some fanfare. With the team far from playoff contention, it was reasonable to think Fredette would get the opportunity to state his case on the NBA stage again.

"I feel like I'm a very improved player and very confident," he said before his first game in a Knicks uniform. "If I have an opportunity, I'll try to take advantage of it."

With his 10-day contract on the verge of expiring Wednesday, that opportunity just hasn't come.

The former first-round pick out of BYU has played just two minutes with the club over the past four games. Tuesday's game against Portland could be his last in a Knicks uniform.

Fredette's lack of playing time has confused some fans. With the Knicks now 25-36 and 6.5 games out of the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, it would seem this is the perfect opportunity to play young players such as Fredette to determine their worth.

But interim coach Kurt Rambis doesn't see it that way.

"There's some logic to that, to giving them some more time," Rambis said Monday. "But we still want to try and finish the season as positively as possible and win as many games as possible."

And therein lies the problem for Fredette.

Rambis would like to win as many games as possible to enhance his chances of landing the Knicks' head-coaching job permanently.

So he has decided against giving Fredette significant playing time thus far. Instead, he's giving minutes to veteran guards Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic, second-year guard Langston Galloway and rookie Jerian Grant.

Rambis also has basically said he wasn't on board with the idea of signing Fredette in the first place, saying that it was management's idea to bring the former BYU star on board.

When asked last week what Fredette needed to do to earn playing time, Rambis offered the following:

"He's going to have to exhibit bringing something to the table that's better than what we already have here. He's going to have to outplay somebody. I'm not going to displace somebody that's been here all year and has been working hard in practice. We kind of know what the individuals already on the team bring, their strengths and weaknesses. So if there's something that he can bring that's a little bit better, then he'll get an opportunity. It's really hard to just throw somebody in like that."

Or perhaps Rambis simply didn't want it to appear he was capitulating to fan pressure by playing Fredette. Knicks fans at MSG have chanted Fredette's name on several occasions during the team's past three home games. But Rambis inserted Fredette into a game just once during that stretch, despite the fact that he has little to lose by playing Fredette. Fredette would have taken only a few minutes away from Vujacic or Calderon in those games.

"I feel like I'm a very improved player and very confident. If I have an opportunity, I'll try to take advantage of it."

Jimmer Fredette

To be sure, Fredette isn't a panacea for all that ails the Knicks. He's known as a subpar defender and some scouts believe he lacks the ballhandling skills and quickness to penetrate NBA defenses, which is something he did with relative ease in the D-League. Indeed, Rambis recently softened his criticism of Fredette, crediting him for showing fight during practice and not backing down from any challenges. Maybe that's a precursor to Fredette seeing some playing time on Tuesday against the Trail Blazers?

Regardless of what happens Tuesday night, the Knicks will have to decide in the next two days whether they'd like to keep Fredette for another 10-day contract. Rambis said on Monday that he'd be open to the possibility, but added that management also is looking at other young players who are free agents or are on the verge of clearing waivers.

So Fredette's days in New York might be over. If so, it feels like a missed opportunity for both Fredette and the franchise.