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Knicks notes on Hart and Barrett struggles, Mitchell Robinson’s back, roster moves

Bad shooting, a healed back, and one player getting cut!

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Phoenix Suns v New York Knicks Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images

With just one day of practice between Sunday’s matchup against the Phoenix Suns and the welcoming of the Charlotte Hornets later on Tuesday, the Knicks held a practice inside their Tarrytown facilities on Monday and we got to hear from the New Yorkers and their daily business.

Tom Thibodeau, Josh Hart, and RJ Barrett were the main characters taking the spotlight on Monday, although there was more content out there worth recapping, including a roster transaction following a mid-term injury suffered by a Westchester Knicks player.

Josh Hart struggling to find his “rhythm”

A recurrent theme through the preseason and also during the first month of regular-season play has been Josh Hart’s condition following a year—his first one—packed full of spring and summer basketball.

Hart advanced to/in the playoffs for the first time in his career last season with the Knicks and he then went on to play for Team USA in the World Cup, right before the start of training camp, preseason, and the 2023/24 tip-off. No days off.

With the Knicks downsizing their roster completing just one move last offseason (trading forward Obi Toppin away, signing guard Donte DiVincenzo), it was always expected for Hart to take on a larger (literally and figuratively) role this year.

“Just trying to get in a rhythm,” Hart said on Monday referencing his new role within Tom Thibodeau’s rotation. “I’m a rhythm player, not someone that’s just a catch-and-shoot three-point shooter that really only does that. That’s not really what I do.

“I’m someone who can get in the land and find guys and stuff like that, and I’m capable of making shots,” Hart added. “When you don’t have a rhythm like that or you don’t feel included, it’s just sometimes that’s tough not touching it and having to catch and shoot.”

According to Fred Katz’s research, Hart’s time on the ball per touch is “down almost 30 percent from where it was at for his 25 regular-season games with the Knicks last season.”

Asked about Hart’s low shooting percentages a few days ago, Thibs didn’t sound too worried. “He’s put work in. A lot of them have gone in and out, and I believe in the end he’ll be there,” Thibodeau said then. “He’s not going to hesitate. He’s been around a long time.”

Hart is shooting 28.6% from beyond the 3-point arc this year compared to last season’s 51.9% accuracy since joining the Knicks (25 games).

RJ Barrett on his 3-point shooting woes

RJ Barrett has been another Knick (who hasn’t, really?) struggling to find the net this season on long-range jumpers.

Although he started hot and bagged half of the first 40 shots he took to kick the season off, he’s scored only a third of the last 16 3-point shots he’s taken in the last four outings he’s played combined since returning from his migraine-related issues and missing time.

“I didn’t pick up where I left off,” Barrett acknowledged. “That’s OK. Honestly, this was going to happen at some point during the season, whether I got sick or not.

“So I’m just doing what I do all the time, and working my way out of it,” Barrett said. “I’m not worried.”

Thibs isn’t, either, saying on Monday that “Sometimes that happens,” and explaining that as he sees young RJ, “He was in a good rhythm and he’s trying to find his way again. He’ll get there. We have a lot of confidence in him.“

Update on Mitchell Robinson’s banged-up back

Mitch went down hard in the third quarter of Sunday’s match against the Suns, but the Knicks did not list him in their last injury report after Monday’s practice.

Robinson went for a putback dunk at the rim and fell hard on his back, clearly showing signs of pain before getting up and making a trip to the free-throw line, where he missed both freebies.

Mitch touched on the play after the game, saying “I fell. It hurt.” He already told reporters in the locker room then, “I think I’m going to be okay. I [was] going to get it looked at now—until you stopped me.”

According to Katz reporting from Tarrytown, Thibs provided a little update on Robinson’s status for Tuesday’s game against Charlotte. The coach said Mitch “went through practice” on Monday after being examined by the Knicks’ team trainers Sunday night.

However, the coach left the door open when it comes to his presence on the flashy In-Season Tournament court later today, saying he was “not sure if Robinson will be on the injury report.”

Knicks release Duane Washington Jr., sign Jaylen Martin to two-way deal

Before the ball got rolling on Sunday, the New York/Westchester Knicks announced that Duane Washington Jr. had suffered a thumb injury, scheduling him for a re-evaluation in “six to eight weeks.”

Considering the mid-to-long-term nature of the injury, the franchise decided to waive the G League contributor, making room for another youngster to sign a fresh two-way deal in Jaylen Martin, the club confirmed on Monday.

Martin already signed a similar deal last summer after going undrafted following a stint at the Overtime Elite. The Knicks removed him from the NBA roster ahead of the regular season, but they brought him back to Westchester where he’s already played six games putting up nearly 11 PPG and more than 3 RPG this season.