ORLANDO, Fla. — In the second quarter Wednesday at Amway Center, Jeff Hornacek motioned to the bench. Point guard Ramon Sessions popped up, started taking off his warm-up top. It was a false alarm. A Knicks assistant told him to sit back down.
Either Sessions misread Hornacek’s intentions or, as the veteran said, “Coach changed his mind.”
It became another DNP for Sessions, and his future as a Knick is unclear. After starting the first three games, when the Knicks began 0-3, he’s been pinned to his seat — only playing during garbage time of the blowout loss to the Rockets.
Sessions has always been in a rotation in his 11 seasons, saying this is “a little adjustment.’’
“I’ve played my whole career, first time in my 11 years this has actually happened,” Sessions said in his first remarks on his demotion. “I’ve been around a while, been around different scenarios. It’s still early. It’s a long season. In the NBA, a lot of things can happen.’’
Jarrett Jack was elevated to starting point guard, and the Knicks are 6-2 since. Jack has made a point of focusing on setting up Kristaps Porzingis. It’s no coincidence Jack had his worst game Wednesday in Orlando (six turnovers) minus Porzingis, as the club suffered a 112-99 loss.
Previously, Jack had been credited with organizing and calming the offense amid allegations the players didn’t know all the plays. It was implied Sessions, a penetrator, wasn’t working out in that area.
Sessions doesn’t buy it.
“I don’t think it’s something I fell short of,’’ Sessions said. “The more practices we got, the more games we played, it would get to that point. It wasn’t nothing I was lacking in that department.”
The Knicks need to open a roster spot Sunday to make room for Joakim Noah’s return from a drug suspension. Sessions hasn’t heard from Knicks management. GM Scott Perry, in praising his professionalism Wednesday, declined to say if the free-agent signee would be on the roster by Monday.
“You got to roll with what decisions are being made,’’ Sessions said. “I’m still around the guys. It’s not like I’m not here. I just have to be ready when my number is called. The team has been playing well. Any type of decision you have to live with and support the team. It’s a long season. You stay professional and keep working hard.’’
Knicks president Steve Mills recently said he thought Sessions could still be a mentor for rookie Frank Ntilikina. But that sentiment was made after just one start by Jack.
“One-hundred percent, no matter what, I’ll still talk to the young fella,’’ Sessions said. “Whenever he needs me, I’m still around. It’s not like I’ve disappeared.’’
Another great team win. Keep on learning! #KnicksWay
— Ron Baker (@RonBaker31) November 8, 2017
Since Ntilikina got healthy, combo guard Ron Baker has been inactive, but he’s still their liveliest wire cheering on the Knicks bench in his sports jacket. Baker has handled his demotion with aplomb, often tweeting rah-rah sentiments after victories.
Hornacek originally claimed it was Baker’s preseason ankle injury that was sidelining him, but the coach now says that’s healed completely. Baker has been cited as part of the Knicks’ young core.
“Ron’s working hard,’’ Hornacek said. “His ankle is feeling better, continuing to try to stay in the best shape he can. When he practices, you can see he has a lot more pop than he did last year.”
If Sessions is cut, it would open the door for Baker to at least be in uniform.
The Knicks had a 4-1 homestand before the Orlando defeat. Now they begin another three-game homestand with Sacramento on Saturday, Cleveland on Monday and Utah on Wednesday. This is their friendliest stretch of the season.
Starting with the Denver home game on Oct. 30, the Knicks will have been at the Garden for 10-of-12 contests.
Ntilikina notched nine assists against Orlando, playing his second full back-to-back. There were no back-to-back arrangements in the French League, Ntilikina said, when Strasbourg played twice a week.
“Mentally I love it,’’ Ntilikina said. “I woke up this morning and knew I had a game tonight. I love it. But physically have to prepare. Of course our legs were not if we had a rest day.’’
Perry on Wednesday, in a meeting with beat writers, said of Ntilikina:
“The guy’s a sponge. He keeps learning. He’s had some big moments already. He knows he’s got a lot of room to grow and get better. He’s very active on the defensive end. Just see a young guy whose eyes are still wide open and bright and has a lot of basketball ahead of him, a lot of experience to gain. I’m excited watching him grow and develop.’’
In the 2017 draft, Perry passed on Ntilikina as a Sacramento executive to tab point guard De’Aaron Fox at 5. Fox will make his Garden debut Saturday.