Knicks dropping John Henson as Norvel Pelle emerges

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The Knicks are expected to have a free spot with injured forward / center John Henson’s 10-day contract expiring Thursday. The Knicks are not planning to give him a second 10-day pact, according to an NBA source.

Third-string center Norvel Pelle stepped up on Wednesday when starter Nerlens Noel suffered a last-minute scrape with a sprained ankle sealed Henson’s fate.

Henson injured his calf on the second day of his contract during a practice session with various Knicks players. The 30-year-old NBA veteran has never entered a game but raised $ 119,000 from his 10-day pact to rehabilitate his calf. Henson didn’t make the two-game road trip to New Orleans and Dallas.

Meanwhile, Pelle had a strong defensive game in the Knicks’ win over the Pelicans on Wednesday. Pelle, playing with a dislocated finger he suffered in his Detroit debut, played 13 minutes, blocked a shot from Zion Williamson and scored two inside baskets. More importantly, he was a plus-19.

Norvel Pelle;  John Henson
Norvel Pelle; John Henson
Getty Images

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t know much about Pelle when they signed him earlier this month, saying “scouts” liked him. But he left impressed. Pelle is on his second 10-day contract with hopes of ending the season with the Knicks.

“Norvel has been great,” said Thibodeau. “He did a lot of extra work. He always finds his way, learning the system. But its length, blocking shots, rim protection is huge for us.

Thibodeau viewed Pelle and Henson as “insurance” for Noel and the Taj Gibson backup center. Center Mitchell Robinson, who did not make the two-game road trip between New Orleans and Dallas, is expected to be out for the season with a broken foot.

“These guys have done a great job all year,” said Thibodeau. “When Mitch came out, Nerlens was ready, stepped in, did a great job. Taj stepped in, gave us some great save minutes. The only thing about Taj that you know is you can start him up, you can kick him off the bench, you can put him in a situation, he’s the same every day. Always ready, always the team first. “

It’s unclear if the Knicks will use their last spot on the roster and they could decide to continue with the Noel, Gibson and Pelle line.

One power forward the Knicks have considered is Kenneth Faried, the tough rebounder and former Denver Nugget. Faried, 31, who recently performed in China, is from Newark. But the blow to Faried is that he’s still a poor shooter.

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