Although New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett wanted to go to the 2019 FIBA World Cup with Canada, his camp reportedly urged him not to play.
However, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft won’t be going to China with his fellow countrymen. This was already common knowledge, but Josh Lewenberg of TSN adds that his camp “encouraged” Barrett to skip the World Cup and prepare for his rookie season.
“I’m very disappointed. I play every summer and I definitely wanted to play this summer,” Barrett said via Lewenberg.
The fact that his camp urged him to skip the World Cup should come as no surprise. His disappointment is understandable, but this summer is a little different from past years. Barrett is preparing for his first-82 game season in the NBA and that grind will take a toll on the young wing.
Playing in a month-long tournament on the other side of the planet isn’t the best way for the 19-year-old nursing a calf injury to prepare for his rookie season in New York. The last thing the Knicks need is to have Barrett enter October with nagging injuries.
Now Barrett can use the month of September to make sure he’s entering the 2019-20 season at 100%. He’ll have plenty of chances to represent his country in the future.
After Barrett and Julius Randle have decided to forego the opportunity to play in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Frank Ntilikina appears to be the only Knick heading to China. Second-year center Mitchell Robinson will be participating in Team USA’s training camp and competing on the USA Select Team.