Knicks’ RJ Barrett misses another game with sore knee: ‘Always concerned’

MILWAUKEE — RJ Barrett, arguably the Knicks best player through the opening couple weeks, missed his second straight game Friday with a sore knee and a “day-to-day” timetable.

“You’re always concerned when people are out,” coach Tom Thibodeau acknowledged.

Barrett said last week that he hurt his left knee in the season opener and had been managing it since.

The small forward played just 25 minutes in his last appearance — a victory over Cleveland on Halloween — and was spotted postgame that night with a wrap over his knee.

“I think something that at this point kind of everybody in the league is going through the same thing,” Barrett said at the time. “Back-to-backs, all the playing and stuff. Just got to be mentally tough through it.”

Barrett was not with the team Friday night in Milwaukee.

RJ Barrett, pictured earlier this season, missed his second consecutive game for the Knicks on Friday.
Charles Wenzelberg

Josh Hart again started in Barrett’s place and struggled offensively, missing 7 of 9 shots.

Two nights earlier — with Hart at small forward — the Knicks were dropped by the Cavaliers at MSG.

Barrett entered Friday as the Knicks’ leading scorer, averaging 21 points on over 45 percent shooting.

He logged heavy minutes in the summer for Team Canada at the World Cup but, unlike his teammates Jalen Brunson, Hart and Julius Randle, played through much of the preseason.

“It’s soreness. Trust the medical people, trust RJ,” Thibodeau said. “We have more than enough. Next guy get in there, get it done.”

RJ Barrett, pictured earlier this season, entered Friday’s game as the Knicks’ leading scorer.

Coaches can collect prize money in a new wrinkle to the In-Season Tournament, with Thibodeau and Milwaukee’s Adrian Griffin now eligible for a $500,000 bonus if they guide the championship squad.

“I just want to win,” Griffin, the rookie head coach, said. “Obviously I’m not going to turn down any money. But we’re all competitors. If there’s a trophy, we want to win. The money is a good external incentive.”

Assistants will also share 75 percent of the head coach’s bonus, according to ESPN.

The head coach of the runner-up squad — along with each player — gets $200,000. Semifinalists ($100,000) and quarterfinalists ($50,000) are also rewarded.

Thibodeau doesn’t know what to make of the In-Season Tournament other than he likes the thought.

Friday’s loss was New York’s first matchup in pool play.

It also counted as a regular-season game.

“I’m curious myself,” Thibodeau said. “I think it’s a great idea, and the thing I love about Adam [Silver], he’s not afraid to try things. And I think everyone’s trying to get a feel for it, but the thought process behind it is very good.”

The NBA dressed it up for the In-Season Tournament opener.

The Milwaukee court was remodeled with a light green stripe down the middle — from baseline to baseline — and a trophy at center court.

It looked like a shuffleboard.

‘In-Season Tournament’ t-shirts covered every seat.

The league mandated that every healthy star suit up and play.

There’s skepticism this will be embraced by the players, let alone the fans, but JJ Redick is convinced it’ll be a hit.

J.J. Redick (center) seemed excited for the new tournament.
NBAE via Getty Images

The former Sixers shooting guard, who called Friday’s game for ESPN, said on a conference call that the champion will separate itself with self-motivation.

“Whoever ends up winning the In-Season Tournament is probably the team with the most amount of sickos on their team. I mean that,” Redick said. “Like, you don’t need to give Chris Paul a reason to be competitive. He wakes up that way.

“Some teams and some players are just wired that way. There’s a purpose to everything they do,” Redick added. “The NBA weeds out the non-competitive people very quickly. And I think this is another opportunity for the competitive people to rise to the top.”

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