RJ Barrett hoping to make Knicks return for final game before NBA trade deadline

ORLANDO — RJ Barrett worked out with the Knicks on Tuesday morning and is expected to return to the starting lineup against the Magic after missing one game with a non-Covid illness.

“Feeling better. I’m going to try,” said Barrett, who was a late scratch for Sunday’s home win over the 76ers. “As soon as, like, before I arrive [the Garden]I started to feel it.

“I tried to take some medicine while trying to get ready. I tried to go through my routine and warm up, but I couldn’t.

Tuesday’s game against the improving Magic will be the Knicks’ last before Thursday’s trade deadline at 3 p.m. The Nets pulled off the first blockbuster of the season, sending Kyrie Irving to the Mavericks.

“You see it. The only ones I really see are the wog posts,” Barrett said, referring to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. “But yeah, it’s that time, so I’m sure Kerry has a first move and I’m sure something will happen toward the deadline.”

RJ Barrett hopes to return to the Knicks lineup on Tuesday night.
RJ Barrett hopes to return to the Knicks’ lineup Tuesday night.
Charles Wenzelberg / The New York Post

Armed with a future first-round draft pick after failing to land All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell last summer, the Knicks are said to be open to help like Toronto’s OG Anunoby or Portland’s Josh Hart. are in front.

“I just do my job, man. I just come in and play basketball,” Barrett added. “I’m just focused on my team right now and let management do what they do. “

The Knicks (29-26) entered Tuesday’s game a half-game behind Miami for the sixth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They posted a home win against the Heat last week without starting point guard Jalen Brunson, and they beat the 76ers without Barrett on Sunday behind strong step-up performances from Evan Fournier, Myles McBride and Isaiah Hartenstein.

RJ Barrett during the Knicks game against the Clippers on February 4, 2023.
RJ Barrett during the Knicks game against the Clippers on February 4, 2023.
USA Today Sports

“It’s called a team. When one of us is out, it’s the next guy up,” Barrett said. “We’re already down the pitch. [Robinson], but that just speaks to our team and guys getting more and more opportunities and showing what they can do. We have a full squad, so that’s very encouraging to see.”

As for Tuesday’s game, Barrett responded “not really” when asked if he had anything to do with Duke product Paulo Banchero. The 20-year-old forward — and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft — is averaging 20.3 points and 6.6 rebounds in 47 games for the Magic, who have won six of their last 10 games.

“I was able to go to a game when [Duke] Played at the Garden last year and I got to meet him and AJ Griffin and those guys,” Barrett said. “It’s good to see how he’s progressing and just the amazing year he’s having. He’s so talented. It’s helped him a lot. He’s gotten a lot better this year, so he’s got a lot of credit. A good one.

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