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Knicks rookie RJ Barrett tries to deal with coaching change

RJ Barrett of the Knicks tries to get

RJ Barrett of the Knicks tries to get to the hoop in the first half against the Pacers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

BEAVERTON, Ore. — It was just 22 games into his professional career when RJ Barrett got his first taste of the business of basketball, seeing the Knicks undergo a coaching change. It could have served as a reminder of where he came from that the practices the last two days were conducted at Coach K gym on the Nike campus.

The gym, named for Barrett’s college coach, Mike Krzyzewski, who has headed up the program at Duke University for 40 years, was a reminder of the permanence of that program and the fleeting nature of coaching tenures in the NBA.

“It’s tough,” Barrett said. “We responded great the other night in the game. Played a real good game except at the end. This is a business. We’re pros. Stuff will happen. We have a whole season to go and move on.”

The entrance to the gym includes a statue of his college coach. Barrett said he’d been here before as part of the Canadian squad that played in the Hoop Summit, practicing here. Now, after briefly acclimating to the instructions from David Fizdale, he was playing for Mike Miller, the interim coach who will lead the Knicks Tuesday night against the Trail Blazers.

“We spoke,” Barrett said. “He told me to continue to do what I’m doing out there and he’ll try to help us as much as he can on offense and defense."

Miller, who is taking the Knicks' reins for a second game, will look to guide his rookie. “He has been so good about coming in and getting his work in and how he approaches every game,” Miller said. “I’ve been impressed with his maturity as a young guy, as a rookie. I think part of this is just the experience of going through it and seeing different coverages and playing against a different guy. Getting used to all the things. The NBA — there’s only so many things you can do to get him ready, and then he has to go experience it. He’s done a great job handling those things.”

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