RJ Barrett Making Progress, Still Out: So Who Is Playing More for Knicks?

Howard Megdal

The news was decidedly mixed on Saturday concerning New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett, who has been out since January 16 with a sprained ankle. 

The Knicks announced Saturday that Barrett, who was on crutches following that January 16 game against Phoenix, has transitioned to a walking boot.

However, don't count on a return in the immediate future. The team is, as expected, taking it slow with Barrett, and will re-evaluate him over the next week.

With Barrett out over the last four games, the Knicks are 1-3, with a different offensive distribution. Barrett had been in double digits in shot attempts for the previous 18 games prior to his injury, and even got up eight of them against Phoenix before leaving mid-game.

But the Knicks are finding other offensive answers as Barrett recovers. More shots from Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock and Bobby Portis have followed, with all three elevating their profiles ahead of the February 6 trade deadline.

It's also meant more time on the court, and more opportunity, for Damyean Dotson, with his play drawing praise from Mike Miller during Friday night's postgame avail with reporters.

Notably, the Knicks have not used this opportunity to play Kevin Knox in any roles that would replace or augment Barrett's typical production out of the 2/3. The current staff clearly sees him as more of a stretch four, if anything — he hasn't gotten many minutes, period, of late.

As ever, this is a development season. Even the temporary loss of the team's lottery pick should be an opportunity.

How that changes once the trade deadline passes, though, will tell us even more about what the team will do in such situations. And the latest injury update provides hope for the Knicks that the post-deadline equation will include a healthy Barrett, too.

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