Doc Rivers sums up Knicks’ struggles: ‘Chemistry is a very fickle thing’

Doc Rivers, the best quote among NBA coaches, summed up in one press conference the Knicks’ troubles better than Tom Thibodeau could in 40 sessions.

Asked by The Post how the Knicks could’ve gone from 10 games over .500 last season to now 11 games under, the Sixers coach acknowledged offseason roster additions Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier didn’t mesh.

“When you make changes, sometimes that goes well for you and sometimes it doesn’t,’’ Rivers said before the Knicks loss to the Sixers. “Chemistry is a very fickle thing, as we all know. When you have it, you want it. Sometimes you don’t even know why you have it, but you know you want to try to protect it. And when you lose it, you don’t know why you’re losing it sometimes. But there’s still time.’’

Not really. The Knicks have 21 games left and start a seven-game road trip that begins in Philly on Wednesday and heads to Phoenix, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Dallas, Memphis and Brooklyn. They are 4 ½ games out of the 10th seed needed for the play-in event.

Doc Rivers was asked why Tom Thibodeau’s (top right) Knicks have regressed from last year.
AP, Robert Sabo

Thibodeau wouldn’t commit to Knicks point guard Derrick Rose returning in March. The Knicks revealed Rose’s “minor procedure” Friday involved cleaning up a skin infection that developed where he underwent surgery in mid-December to remove a bone spur. Hence, it’s unclear how invasive a procedure it was amid a report which stated he could be back in two weeks. However, Thibodeau said there’s no known timetable.

Asked if he thinks he’ll see Rose back in March, Thibodeau said, “Yeah, I wish I could answer that, but I can’t. Obviously, he needs some time right now and then when he’s re-evaluated, as soon as we get more information, we’ll make sure you guys get updated, as well. You just have to sort of let him go through it and be patient with it.” Rose’s return might be regarded as unnecessary anyway if the Knicks go young.

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There’s also no timetable for Quentin Grimes. According to one source, the rookie shooting guard still might need a month to recover, and by then, the season could be all but over. “As time goes on, we’ll update as we get more information as well,” Thibodeau said. “But we feel like the fact that there’s no surgery is good.”

Thibodeau kept his youth movement going by playing rookie center Jericho Sims another 18 minutes while veterans Taj Gibson and Nerlens Noel sat. Sims didn’t score but had 10 rebounds. Even when Sims and Mitchell Robinson fouled out after going scoreless, Thibodeau inserted Obi Toppin instead. Noel was listed after the All-Star break with a sore foot and was questionable Friday entering the Miami game. But he has dressed for both games. Thibodeau said he’s “available’’ to play but doesn’t want to use him until he has practices under his belt. Thibodeau says Noel’s plantar fasciitis is well enough for him to play if needed but gave him a second straight DNP-CD. Noel was not made available for comment.

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