RJ Barrett couldn't remember the last time he missed a game because of an injury, but the Knicks Rookie Guard will miss at least a week with a sprained ankle he had against the sun on Thursday night.
The Knicks announced that their draft pick would be reevaluated in the first round next Friday, but Barrett will definitely put Saturday's home game against the 76s and the next two games against the Cavaliers and Lakers on hold.
As if someone needed more reasons not to watch another spiral season.
"We need to see how he progresses and how the injury heals every day," said interim coach Mike Miller after Friday's training in Tarrytown. "He'll bounce back. He's resilient. He's always ready to play. When he's done, give him a week or so and I'm sure he'll go back to his routines. He'll be fine."
Miller also described the injury as an "ankle sprain," which is why there is little guarantee that the former Duke star will return to the lineup. Miller mentioned Reggie Bullock, who survived the neck pain defeat on Thursday, as a likely replacement for Barrett on the grid against the Sixers.
Meanwhile, Kevin Knox, last year's lottery winner, only played four games this season, while Allonzo Trier, who was on guard in the second year, has only played 27 minutes in nine games since January 1st (without six more).
"Everyone is in the game," said Miller. "We often say that. We'll have to see what we need for each game, which matchups do we think are good for which guys? We trust all of these people, so it could be an opportunity for others to get more minutes. "
Barrett left home defeat against the Suns on Thursday in the third quarter, shortly after turning his ankle when he was fouled by Ricky Rubio, the Phoenix security guard. Barrett stayed in the game for a moment, but limped from the square and left the garden on crutches. The No. 3 overall rating in Draft 2019 averages 14.1 points and 5.2 rebounds in 41 games.
"He is a very talented player," said Bullock. “He loves playing basketball. It is very competitive. He is strong for a 19 year old child. And it can be trained. His only goal is to win and try to do everything to help his teammates. He is a good guy and he will be in this league for a while. "
Miller said Barrett's overall game has improved in the past few weeks as he averaged 19.0 points and 5.8 boards on his previous six appearances before Thursday's early departure.
"Its efficiency, its game, we saw that things really went up," said Miller. "He played good games right from the start. We have seen maturity continue to grow. He has certainly played very efficiently here in the past few weeks."
Of course, this improvement hadn't led to further victories for the Knicks (11-31), who lost seven of their last eight after a 6-6 distance after Miller replaced David Fizdale in December.
"It's a challenge. Always a challenge in the league, but we have to adapt, we have to keep going," said Julius Randle. "It doesn't stop for us."
Marcus Morris also missed five games with a neck injury before returning with a 17-point attempt against the Suns. But apart from Morris and Randle, the Knicks need someone who turns out to be a viable scoring option in Barrett's absence.
"It is an opportunity for everyone to get the opportunity to use part of the minutes that RJ was [playing] out there, 'said Bullock. “All together, only as a team, we only have to play. We have just had a big part of the season behind us, in the second half of the season we just have to get together and collect some wins and start buying them and making them together as a team. "