The New York Knicks backslide into the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings continued on Tuesday night in their loss to the Denver Nuggets.
During the February 8 contest, coach Tom Thibodeau felt like he could make a run and come back late in the fourth quarter against Denver, so he subbed star RJ Barrett back into the game.
The run never came and the Knicks ended up losing by 17 points. To make matters worse, Barrett injured his ankle in the closing minute and hobbled off the floor.
An injury can happen at any point in time, but it typically doesn’t come when your starters are out there playing meaningless minutes in a game that since long been decided.
Knicks fans sounded off on social media after the game about the decision to leave Barrett out there.
The general consensus among Knicks fans is basically Barrett had no business being on the floor that late in the game.
Putting your starters back into a game where you can make a run and come back is one thing, but when the game is decided, coaches typically empty the benches and let the players who don’t play all that much get into the game.
Thibodeau has been criticized in the past for leaning too much on his veterans, with the most notable example being Derrick Rose and Thib’s presumed role in his chronic knee problems.
As of right now, Barrett’s injury doesn’t sound too severe and the players are optimistic that it’s nothing serious, but he might miss a game or two to recover.
After the game, Thibodeau explained his reasoning for leaving Barrett out there.
Why Was Barrett in the Game?
When asked why Barrett was in the game that late in the first place, he explained that he thought the team could come back.
“He sat most of the fourth, we got it down to 13 and we wanted to see if we could make a run,” Thibodeau said.
The thought process is sound, but it was clear the game was over by the time Barrett’s injury happened.
Julius Randle was asked about the starters playing that late in the game and he gave a non-answer while also saying he has the coach’s back.
“I’ll let ya’ll debate that,” he said. “Like I said, the only thing that matters is what’s in our locker room and what we think as players. I got Thibs’ back 100 percent. I trust him. And whatever he asks me to do, I’m going to do.”
In the grand scheme of things, Barrett will more than likely bounce right back from this, and the Knicks aren’t exactly in the hunt for the playoffs currently.
Before the February 10 trade deadline comes around, New York is expected to make a few more moves. It’s clear by now that the roster as currently constructed just isn’t working, so dumping some veterans in exchange for future assets could be the best thing for the Knicks right now.