Tom Thibodeau is not surprised that Immanuel Quickley has remained focused on basketball with his deadline to sign a contract extension looming on Monday.
The Knicks’ head coach also doesn’t believe last season’s Sixth Man of the Year runner-up will allow his game or his approach to be affected, regardless of his contractual status.
“I think the thing that I like about Quick is he’s had the same chip [on his shoulder] since we’ve had him. He had the chip at Kentucky. When you study his makeup, that’s who he is,” Thibodeau said after practice Saturday in Tarrytown. “He knows he’s a good player. He’s a gym rat. Works on the game. Can really think on his feet. He has all the characteristics that you look for in a player.
“So you let the agent handle it. [Team president] Leon [Rose] and his staff, they’re working toward the things that they have to do. So everyone has to do the things that they think is best for themselves.”
The 24-year-old Quickley sat out the final two preseason games earlier in the week because he was “a little nicked up,” according to Thibodeau, but the fourth-year combo guard practiced Saturday for a second consecutive day as the Knicks prepare for Wednesday’s regular-season opener against the Celtics at the Garden.
Quickley is slated to earn $4.17 million this season, and if his extension isn’t worked out by Monday at 5 p.m., he will become a restricted free agent next summer — with the Knicks having the right to match any offer.
ESPN salary-cap guru and former Nets executive Bobby Marks recently estimated Quickley’s market value at $85 million on a four-year deal.
The Knicks were able to come to terms with RJ Barrett on a four-year extension worth $107 million before training camp one year ago.
Quickley, who is represented by Raymond Brothers and Sam Permut of Roc Nation, was not one of the two players the Knicks made available to the media after Saturday’s session.
But starting point guard Jalen Brunson also praised his teammate’s ability to separate the business side of the game from his on-court preparation.
“That speaks to Quick’s character,” said Brunson, who signed a four-year deal worth $104 million with the Knicks as a free agent last summer. “I think RJ got his [deal] done at a different time, so I don’t want to compare the situations. But Quick has been coming in every day to do his job.
“He’s had a great attitude, and I was in a similar position when I was in Dallas. He’s mentally ready to go. And that’s all you can ask of him. He’s been a true professional. I just know he’ll stay that way.”
Quickley declined comment when approached by reporters before Wednesday’s preseason finale other than to confirm that his absence from the lineup wasn’t related to his contract negotiations.
Thibodeau also said he “would never question that” about Quickley, who averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 28.9 minutes per game last season.
“What I try to do is the main thing is basketball,” Thibodeau added. “Leon obviously, the front office, they handle the business aspect of it, as does his agent.
“That’s what I like about Quick: Quick is great in practice, he’s locked in, he loves the gym, but that’s what he pays his agent for, and Leon, I think, has a great understanding of that having been an agent to be in this position now. So I feel good about hopefully they’ll find some common ground somewhere.”