To date, the Knicks have avoided any positive COVID-19 tests this season. Before Saturday, they hadn’t had any games postponed.
But that second part will change on Saturday as the NBA earlier this week postponed the Knicks’ scheduled home game against the San Antonio Spurs.
San Antonio, which has had four players test positive for the virus, has had four games postponed. The Charlotte Hornets, who played the Spurs on Sunday, have had two games postponed.
The Knicks (14-16) last played on Wednesday and lost to Orlando, 107-89. They will face Minnesota on Sunday as they begin a four-game homestand that will include the return of a limited number of fans on Tuesday against Golden State.
For the Knicks, the previously uninterrupted schedule was a boon as they got to see how all their new pieces fit together in plenty of games.
But the extra day of practice and the rest that comes along with the postponement doesn’t hurt, either.
"It hasn’t been tough for us because we haven’t had any postponements," Julius Randle said. "The tougher part is just making sure your body stays ready, the recovery and stuff playing a lot of games in a short amount of time. We’ve been lucky to not have any postponements. Just happens [we have] one — a little slip-up or whatever it may be. It’s cool. And it least it’s a home game, so we don’t have to go out and travel again or whatever it may be. It’s fine. We’ve been one of the lucky teams, for sure."
Coach Tom Thibodeau gave credit to the Knicks’ medical staff for the team’s COVID-free season to this point. The only Knicks player to miss any time because of COVID rules is guard Frank Ntilikina, who was quarantined for a week in a Miami hotel because of contact tracing after being in close contact with someone who tested positive.
Ntilikina, who tested negative during his quarantine, rejoined the team in Orlando.
The Knicks were able to dodge that COVID bullet, but they know the entire season will be a test.
"You’re always concerned because of the way it spreads — it spreads quickly," Thibodeau said. "So the safety part of it is critical . . . [The Knicks’ medical staff] has done a phenomenal job with us in terms of reminding us of all the protocols that are necessary for us to play. But it just takes one, and we have been fortunate.
"You look at the league and the amount of games that have been missed. I think to be able to play as many as we’ve played, it’s well planning on the league’s part, putting all those protocols in place. We’ve been fortunate and hopefully we’ll continue to be fortunate."
Barrett’s take. RJ Barrett, who once was among the league leaders in minutes, said he isn't concerned about his dwindling court time the last six games. "I’m just out there playing my game," he said. "I’m out there as much as Coach wants me or needs me to be out there."