CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two hours before Monday’s game in Houston, Knicks shooting guard Allonzo Trier took the court at Toyota Center with assistant coach Royal Ivey for shooting drills.
At one juncture, with Trier accentuating his shooting form, the former Arizona Wildcat drilled seven straight 3-pointers. Trier and Ivey fist-bumped.
None of the extra work Trier has put in off the court has swayed interim coach Mike Miller from promoting last season’s rookie surprise into the rotation.
When garbage time cometh, Trier entered the contest, played the game’s final 6:22 with the club down 23. All Trier did was drain both his 3-pointers and go 3-for-4 from the field, 1-of-2 from the free-throw line for nine points. He finished a plus-12.
It seems anytime he gets his garbage-time chance and comes in ice cold, he knocks down shots.
“It’s one of those you don’t take credit for doing your job,’’ said Trier, who is shooting 35.4 percent from 3. “It’s part of the game if that’s your role. You got to overcome it. It’s hard to be cold and come into the game and that’s what a role player has to do to contribute.”
One of the season’s larger mysteries is Trier’s fall from grace. After being undrafted last season, Trier went from two-way G-League player to the 15-man NBA roster with a new contract that pays him $3.5 million this season.
He was tight with Kevin Durant when Trier went to high school in Oklahoma City. Maybe Knicks brass considered the young sniper a Durant drawing card.
Durant went to Brooklyn and Trier went to the bench. Sources have indicated his reputation as a reluctant passer is not as much the cause of his demotion as lax defense.
Plus, the Knicks are overloaded at shooting guard with rookie RJ Barrett getting major minutes as the No. 3-overall pick in the draft.
“I’ve flipped onto a new year and new role,’’ Trier said. “I just have to accept it and continue to do my job. And even I don’t play, I continue to come in and support my teammates.’’
Miller and former coach David Fizdale have praised Trier for being a cheerleader on the bench. It’s not overstated. Admirably, Trier is seen joking and clapping and never sulking.
“I just lock in on the team goal and know it’s not just about me,’’ Trier said. “I can’t be worried about if I’m not playing. I have to be worried what’s going on with the team. And there’s different ways I can help the team if I’m not playing like at practice. Or just continue to get better as a player.’’
The Knicks tried to move Trier at the trade deadline. There was some interest but teams were unwilling to give up a future asset.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but personally I’m not a fan,’’ one NBA personnel director said. “He can score some, but the sense is he gets selfish and doesn’t have an idea of how to play other than shooting it every time he touches it.’’
Trier will be a free agent and only Leon Rose, expected to take over the presidency next week, can change his Knicks’ fortunes and demand Miller try him in the rotation spot. The Knicks rank 27th in 3-point shooting at 33.4 percent.
Trier knows room for him exists in an NBA that emphasizes 3-point shooting because of new analytics
“I’m confident in me as a player,’’ Trier said. “I know what I bring to the table. I know what I can do. And how hard I work at this game.
“That’s what I’ll continue to do — get better every single day and sharpen my craft.
Asked if any veteran has picked up his spirits, Trier said, “I feel I’m not down and sad every day. I love the game of basketball. I’m getting to be around to work on my game and be part of a team that’s starting to grow.’’
That said, Trier admitted he would’ve been just as fine had he been traded before the Feb. 6 deadline.
“I wasn’t nervous,’’ Trier said. “If it happened, it happened. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Nothing to be worried about.”
Trier arrived an hour before the rest of the team to Tuesday’s practice at Spectrum Center. Before the 17-40 Knicks face Charlotte on Wednesday, he’ll be on the court shooting with Ivey.
“That’s one thing we know with him — he puts the work in, he goes to the gym early and stays late,’’ Miller said. “He got a chance [Monday] night and did well with his opportunity.’’