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August 23, 2019

RJ Barrett withdraws from FIBA World Cup due to mild calf strain

August 13, 2019

Knicks rookie RJ Barrett will not play for Team Canada in this summer’s FIBA World Cup. Instead, he will take the time to recover from a mild calf strain that he sustained during July’s Las Vegas Summer League.

Barrett will join Team Canada for training camp and team activities in Toronto, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, but he will not compete alongside his countrymen. He has played for Canada in each of the past four summers and helped them qualify for the World Cup this summer, but Barrett is part of a growing trend of NBA players skipping international play this summer in preparation for the upcoming season.

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The Knicks won’t have to stress about RJ Barrett playing in the World Cup this summer for Canada. (John Locher/AP)

Zion Williamson is another rookie who withdrew from Team USA’s select team to prepare for his first season with the Pelicans, while James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Tobias Harris, Bradley Beal and C.J. McCollum headline the list of NBA stars who have withdrawn from Team USA. J.J. Redick recently declined an invitation to play for Team USA, begging out so he could move from Philadelphia to New Orleans.

Team USA may send its B team of stars with a roster led by Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton and Kyle Lowry. Team Canada won’t just be short Barrett, either. Both Tristan Thompson and Andrew Wiggins have withdrawn from FIBA competition, as well.

This is welcome news, though, for the Knicks, who won’t have to worry about Barrett’s health over the summer. After all, New York selected him third overall in this year’s draft, and his scoring ability is expected to lift the organization after a season that tied a franchise-worst 17-65 record. The last thing they want to monitor is his injury status away from an NBA floor.

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