The New York Knicks are gearing up to take on the Washington Wizards on Thursday night, but they were unsure if they would gain back both Obi Toppin and RJ Barrett. Toppin was eligible to return from Covid health and safety protocols on Monday, but Barrett only cleared the 10-day quarantine requirement on Wednesday.
However, the Knicks announced on Thursday morning that Barrett and Toppin have re-joined the team and have cleared all protocols, making them available to play against the Wizards. The loss of Barrett has been a significant factor in recent days, relinquishing one of their best defenders and productive young players.
RJ Barrett has been cleared from health and safety protocols and rejoined the team. Grimes, Knox, McBride, Noel and Quickley remain in health and safety protocols.
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) December 23, 2021
The third-year guard last played against the Toronto Raptors on December 10, scoring 19 points over 30 minutes. In fact, Barrett has scored double-digit points in four consecutive games before testing positive for Covid. His most explosive performance came against the San Antonio Spurs, when he scored 32 points on 87.5% shooting from three-point range and 55% shooting from the field.
Gaining Barrett back will give the team more consistency in the starting five. His 112.7 defensive rating is far above the 107.2 he posted last season in his second year, but he is still a productive player looking to pick up momentum.
Barrett has ebbed and flowed between hot and cold streaks this season, but hopefully, coming off this stint with Covid, he can put together a great second half of the season. The Knicks desperately need him to be the Robin to Julius Randle’s Batman, so you can bet that the star power forward will love having him back in the lineup.
With Barrett back in a starting five, we can expect either Kemba Walker or Alec Burks to move to the bench depending on how Tom Thibodeau views their value. Burks has been featuring as this team starting PG, but he lacks the facilitation of a traditional player at the position. Walker has struggled with his ball movement this season, so it is possible he’s relegated to the bench in a reserve role moving forward.