Knicks Star Hits Protocols at Inopportune Moment

RJ Barrett Knicks

Getty New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett looks on during a game against the Washington Wizards.

Less than 24 hours after Obi Toppin entered health and safety protocols, another New York Knicks forward joined him there. As announced by Knicks PR on Sunday, former No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett — who is averaging 15.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game this season — has also entered into protocols.

As a result, both players were out of commission for the team’s 112-97 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. They could be out for several more games as well.

Players who enter protocols are forced into quarantine for at least 10 days following their positive test result. In order to make an earlier return to basketball activities, they must return two negative PCR test results 24 hours apart.

“Our medical staff has been on top of this from the beginning,” Tom Thibodeau said, via the New York Post. “They have reminders everywhere. You just can’t let your guard down. Sometimes you do everything possible and it still happens. It’s our reality. We have to deal with it.”

Barrett Had Shown Signs of Shaking a Month-Long Slump

RJ Barrett Drills 7 Triples, 32 PTS Full Highlights vs Spurs 🔥New York Knicks vs San Antonio Spurs – Full Game Highlights | December 7, 2021 | 2021-22 NBA Season 📌 SHOP OUR MERCH: 📌 Follow our Instagram: 📌 Follow our TikTok: 📌 Follow our Facebook: 📌 Follow our Twitter: 📌 SUBSCRIBE, LIKE & COMMENT for MORE! #HouseofHighlights #NBA2021-12-08T03:57:09Z

Although there’s never really a good time to find oneself in health and safety protocols, Barrett’s entry into them feels particularly poor-timed. After going through what had been one of the most prolonged slumps of his young career, he had just started to show signs of rediscovering his form.

In a December 7 win over the San Antonio Spurs, Barrett erupted with 32 points on 11-of-20 shooting (and 7-of-8 from three-point range). He followed that up with consecutive 19-point performances. Those three efforts represent his best string of scoring performances since early November.

Before the Spurs outburst, Barrett had averaged just 11.1 points per contest on 33.5% shooting overall and 23.1% from three-point range over the 14-game stretch. Meanwhile, his scoring average for the campaign temporarily dipped to a career-low level.

If Barrett is forced to sit out for an extended period — 10 days would mean missing at least five games — or is saddled with any lingering effects from Covid, his shooting funk could rear its ugly head again.

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The Team Is in a Rough Spot, Too

In addition to Barrett’s individual struggles, the Knicks have been going through it on the team front as well. As of this writing, New York has lost six of its last seven contests and currently finds itself three games below the .500 mark at 12-15 on the campaign.

Things could get worse before they get better, too.

On Monday, the Knicks will go toe-to-toe with Stephen Curry and the 21-5 Golden State Warriors. After that, it’s consecutive road games with the Houston Rockets — weirdly one of the hottest teams in the NBA recently with seven wins in their last nine games — and the Boston Celtics, who just welcomed Jaylen Brown back into the fold.


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