RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks during player introductions...

RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks during player introductions before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on November 7, 2022 in Minneapolis. Credit: Getty Images/Stephen Maturen

MINNEAPOLIS — In the Knicks' locker room after the win over the Timberwolves on Monday the mood was jovial as they celebrated the one-sided victory and joked over college backgrounds. And the players were able to smile when asked to look ahead to the next assignment.

The Knicks travel to Brooklyn to face the Nets Wednesday night, and their proximity across the river has allowed them to follow the stories that have swirled around the Nets. From the firing of coach Steve Nash only seven games into the season to the very public problems with Kyrie Irving, the Nets have been a case study in talent not being enough. And the Knicks, even with a .500 record, are content to not be the face of dysfunction.

“That’s their problem,” Julius Randle said with a smile. “All good over here in Knick-land, baby.”

The troubles that haunt the Nets could have been the Knicks’ problems if they got their way in the summer of 2019 when they hoped to land the prize free agents Irving and Kevin Durant. But they didn’t get a sit-down and the Nets won what seemed like the jackpot. Now, maybe not so much with Irving’s future very much uncertain. 

It cost jobs in New York, too, with Knicks executives issuing an apology to fans shortly after the decision of the pair to go to Brooklyn was announced. Knicks president Steve Mills didn’t last long after that. But now it’s hard to imagine what the chaos at Madison Square Garden would be like with Irving on the more visible stage.

“I know what everyone else knows,” Jalen Brunson said. “It’s a situation I hope they get sorted out over there. It’s our next game, that’s all I care about.”

“I’ll watch them occasionally but I haven’t really dug into them,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The next day or so I’ll get into them further. I worry about the Knicks. That’s more than enough for me.”

While Thibodeau and the Knicks' problems are not on the scale of Irving’s franchise-shaking issues, the Knicks were missing two starters Monday. Mitchell Robinson is sidelined with a sprained right knee and Quentin Grimes' sore left foot continues to trouble him.

RJ Barrett has a particular interest in the Nets' misfortunes because of his close relationship with Nash, who is his godfather. But he wasn’t taking shots at the organization.

“I’m just really focused on us,” Barrett said. “Whatever happened over there, that’s their problems. We’re good over here, trying to figure it out. You never know [why Nash would be fired so early in the season]. That’s the one thing about the league. You never know. Anything can happen, nothing is guaranteed.

“They still have Kevin Durant, they still got Kevin Durant, so they’re a problem, We have to come in locked in, and just come in ready.”

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