Former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy doesn’t want to hear any criticism of coaches who are playing their rookies a lot of minutes early in the season and it starts with the New York Knicks.
Van Gundy, who was the Knicks’ head coach from 1995 to 2002 before joining the Houston Rockets and then ESPN as a color commentator, told The Athletic on Tuesday he sees nothing wrong with the minutes R.J. Barrett has received from David Fizdale.
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“That’s what it is, the wussification of the league,” he told The Athletic. “And it’s hurting the product. Has anyone stopped to consider that maybe by playing Barrett a lot of minutes David Fizdale is advancing Barrett’s career forward? Is there anyone who really believes that the way you get better is by not playing and by not practicing? It’s crazy to me.”
The recent trend among NBA stars has been load management, in which players have restrictions over how many minutes or games they play in hopes to stay healthy over a longer period of time.
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Barrett, the Knicks’ 19-year-old rookie, is averaging 37.1 minutes through seven games this season. He is one of New York’s best players and if the team is really hoping to make the playoffs he is going to be a huge factor on a team filled with a smattering of veterans and young talent.
When asked about Barrett’s minutes on Monday, Fizdale didn’t want to hear anything about it.
“We got to get off this load-management crap,” Fizdale said, Sunday according to the New York Post. “Latrell Sprewell averaged 42 minutes for a season. This kid is 19. Drop it already.”
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Barrett played 41 minutes in a blowout loss to the Sacramento Kings.