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RJ Barrett eyes Knicks return for final game before trade deadline


ORLANDO — RJ Barrett worked out with the Knicks on Tuesday morning and hopes to be back within the starting lineup against the Magic after missing one game with a non-COVID illness.

“Feeling higher. I’m gonna try,” said Barrett, who was a late scratch for Sunday’s home win over the 76ers. “As soon as, like, right before I got to [the Garden], I began feeling it.

“I attempted to take some medicine attempting to prepare. I went through my routine and tried to warm up, but I couldn’t do it.”

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

“You see it. I actually only take a look at what Woj posts,” Barrett said, referring to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. “But yeah, it’s that point, so I’m sure Kyrie is the primary move and I’m sure there will likely be something happening towards the deadline.”

RJ Barrett is hoping to return to the Knicks’ lineup on Tuesday night.Charles Wenzelberg/Latest York Post

Armed with a bevy of future first-round draft picks after failing to acquire All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell last summer, the Knicks are said to be in the combo for perimeter help comparable to Toronto’s OG Anunoby or Portland’s Josh Hart.

“I just do my job, man. I just are available in and play basketball,” Barrett added. “I’m focused on the team now we have right away and let management do what they do.”

The Knicks (29-26) entered Tuesday’s game a half-game behind Miami for the sixth playoff position within the Eastern Conference. They posted a house win against the Heat last week without start line guard Jalen Brunson, and so they defeated the 76ers without Barrett on Sunday behind strong step-up performances off the bench by Evan Fournier, Miles McBride and Isaiah Hartenstein.

RJ Barrett during the Knicks' game against the Clippers on Feb. 4, 2023.RJ Barrett in the course of the Knicks’ game against the Clippers on Feb. 4, 2023.USA TODAY Sports

“That’s called a team. When one in every of us is out, it’s next man up,” Barrett said. “We’re already down Mitch [Robinson], but it surely just speaks to our team and guys getting more probabilities and more opportunities and showing what they will do. We got a full squad, so it’s very encouraging to see.”

As for Tuesday’s game, Barrett replied “probably not” when asked if he had any relationship with fellow Duke product Paulo Banchero. The 20-year-old forward — and the No. 1 overall pick within the 2022 draft — is averaging 20.3 points and 6.6 rebounds in 47 games for the Magic, who’ve won six of their previous 10 games.

“I used to be capable of go to a game when [Duke] played within the Garden last yr and I used to be capable of meet him and AJ Griffin and people guys,” Barrett said. “It’s cool to see how he’s been progressing and just the amazing yr that he’s been having. He’s very talented. He’s helped them so much. They’ve gotten so much higher this yr, in order that they got an excellent one.”

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