Knicks Star’s Status for Christmas Day Updated by Thibodeau

RJ Barrett Knicks

Getty New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett drives with the ball during a game against the Indiana Pacers.

Multiple New York Knicks players have exited health and safety protocols ahead of the team’s Christmas Day bout with the Atlanta Hawks. On December 22 and 23, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin and Quentin Grimes all cleared the Covid list.

On Christmas Eve, it was Immanuel Quickley who left protocols, per an announcement from the team.

While the Knicks are inching closer to fielding a game-available roster resembling the one they started the season with, there remains a gaggle of players in protocols. Moreover, those that have just been cleared may or may not be ready for the Hawks game.

However, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau offered some hope that Barrett could return.

Barrett Gets Back to Work

As relayed by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Thibodeau said that Barrett was a participant in the team’s most recent practice session. His return was a big development given that he had missed New York’s previous six games. The Knicks coach further indicated that the door was open for the 21-year-old to suit up on Christmas.

“He did more today,” he said of Barrett. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and go from there.”

Before he entered protocols, Barrett appeared to finally be working his way out of an extended slump. He scored 32 points and hit 7-of-8 shots from distance during a December 7 win over the San Antonio Spurs. And he followed that performance up with back-to-back 19-point efforts.

Prior to the Spurs game, Barrett had put up just 11.1 points per contest on 33.5% from the field and 23.1% from three-point range over a 14-game stretch. Consequently, his scoring average for the season temporarily dipped to a career-low level.

Per Sports Illustrated’s Ben Stinar, Barrett is currently listed as questionable to play versus Atlanta.

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Quickley Probably Won’t Be Ready

As noted by Bontemps, there’s at least some chance that both Toppin — who referred to his quarantine as the “longest 10 days of my life” — and Grimes could play on Saturday as well. The former was been one of the few bright spots for the Knicks during what has been a disappointing campaign.

In 27 appearances this season, Toppin is averaging 8.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest while shooting 52.7% from the floor. His net rating of 10.8 is the best mark on the team by a substantial margin.

However, Quickley is unlikely to be joining them. The 6-foot-3 guard has only just exited protocols and must work himself back to a place where his conditioning allows him to participate in an NBA game. Quickley has averaged 10.2 points, 2.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 29 games for the Knicks this season.

For his part, Thibodeau is anxious to see Quickley and everyone else return to the fold.

“I thought our bench has been one of our strengths,” Thibodeau said. “Hopefully we can get back to that soon.”


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