The Knicks were back at practice on Wednesday for the first time following the All-Star break, and as the team looks to shrug off a disappointing first half there was a welcomed sight on the practice floor in the form of RJ Barrett.
Barrett sprained his ankle against the Denver Nuggets on Feb. 8, missing the Knicks’ final four games prior to the break.
On Wednesday, he was back to practicing with his teammates, much to his delight.
“It was great, it was fun, just to be out there moving, playing basketball again,” Barrett said after practice. “Yeah, I was having fun, I was smiling the whole time, playing hard, so it was cool.”
Barrett may be happy to be practicing again, but he also made it clear that he’s still feeling pain in his left ankle. Now, the key for the Duke product is to deal with the soreness as he continues to push himself closer to a return.
“Of course, I feel something, I’m in pain. I am in pain,” Barrett said with a laugh. “Just getting back into it, it’s going to be sore, but I’m trying to be mentally tough just to get through that. I can move, I can move a little bit, so being able to go out there and practice and scrimmage and really do that, that was a good sign. We have another one tomorrow, so I’m just going to continue to see how it feels.”
Barrett’s ankle sprain occurred in the final 18.3 seconds of that Feb. 8 loss to Denver. Tom Thibodeau has always played his starters late into games, and Barrett was still on the floor despite the Knicks being down 15 points with less that 20 seconds remaining.
Barrett was asked Wednesday about those circumstances surrounding his injury, and he shrugged it off, noting that players can get hurt at any point of any game.
“I think I was just frustrated with the injury itself. You never want to get hurt,” Barrett said. “It was a sprained ankle. I always want to be out on the court, doesn’t matter when. I feel like, especially spraining my ankle like that, that could have happened in the first 10 seconds of the game. So, it doesn’t matter (that it happened in the final seconds).”
Neither Barrett or Thibodeau would say for sure that Barrett will return to the lineup on Friday against the Miami Heat, but that has been the expectation for the last week or so. The Knicks and Heat tip things off from The Garden at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.