RJ Barrett
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Although RJ Barrett is transitioning from crutches to a walking boot, the New York Knicks will not have their prized rookie back this week.

Danny Small

TARRYTOWN, NY—RJ Barrett is dealing with the first injury of his career, but he’s making progress after suffering a sprained right ankle against the Phoenix Suns. The rookie is now using a walking boot and will be re-evaluated by the team in one week.

During the open part of New York Knicks practice, Barrett was shooting free throws without the boot. He was not moving much at all, but the fact that he can put up shots should be encouraging.

“I think OK,” interim head coach Mike Miller responded when asked about Barrett’s overall mindset during the injury. “Just in conversations, he’s studying the game. He’s talking about things he’s seeing in the game. He’s at a point where he’s played a good number of NBA games and he has this great experience right now, valuable experience.

“And now, he’s taking it from a different perspective, he’s watching and seeing the game differently and seeing the plays that are made, the execution, and all the little details.”

As Miller points out, the injury gives Barrett a different perspective on the game and could be beneficial for his overall development. With that said, the time spent on the sideline can’t be easy for the 19-year-old.

“I know he wants to get out there and play again,” Miller said after practice on Saturday.

Dotson’s confidence soaring

Although Barrett’s injury is the last thing the Knicks want to see, it has opened the door for Damyean Dotson to play more consistent minutes. The third-year guard is taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Prior to Friday’s game against the Toronto Raptors, this writer called for the Knicks to give Dotson a defined role. His performance was further proof that he needs to be a fixture in the rotation.

The energetic guard scored a season-high 21 points on 4-for-7 from three-point land and played the entire fourth quarter of a nailbiter.

“Well, for a second yeah because [Miller] usually brings the starters back in, but I guess I had made a couple shots, had it going a little bit so he stayed with it,” Dotson responded when asked if he thought he would come out at all in the fourth quarter. “You’ve got to play with the game and play with the flow. It is what it is and I appreciate him for leaving me out there.”

Taj Gibson is the most experienced player on the team and he wants to see a little more selfishness from Dotson in the future.

“He’s a phenomenal shooter, we want him to shoot more,” Gibson said. “He’s just so unselfish. He worries more about defense and getting other things, but he’s really one of those young guys that we rely on as far as his leadership around most of the young guys.”

Dotson is really coming into his own, putting up a string of strong performances together when the Knicks needed someone to fill the void left by Barrett.

“It gives you a lot of confidence,” Dotson said about Gibson’s comments. “If your teammates believe in you and your coaches believe in you, then you have no choice but to believe in yourself. I’m getting open looks and guys are looking for me.”

News & Notes

  • The Knicks will face their crosstown-rival Brooklyn Nets on Sunday in Madison Square Garden (6 p.m. ET). The matchup will be the second game in as many nights for Brooklyn. The Nets are in Detroit for a Saturday-night bout with the Pistons.
  • The G League Westchester Knicks will host the Maine Red Claws (Boston Celtics affiliate) on Saturday (5 p.m. ET). Westchester is 13-14 after suffering a loss to the Capital City Go-Go (Washington Wizards affiliate) on Tuesday.

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