New York Knicks forward Julius Randle is expected to be sidelined for at least several weeks with a dislocated shoulder, league sources said Monday.
This news comes after Randle suffered an injury during Saturday's win over the Miami Heat. He had an MRI over the weekend and is awaiting multiple opinions on his shoulder. For now, the Knicks are optimistic that he won't need season-ending surgery, according to league sources.
This optimism is a rebound for the Knicks, who have been on a roll since acquiring OG Anunoby from the Toronto Raptors a month ago. New York is 12-2 with Anunoby in the starting lineup, a stretch that includes convincing wins over top-tier teams, such as the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers. Meanwhile, Randle played at an All-Star level during this period.
“That got us in good spirits, that he's not going to be out for a long time,” Knicks wing Josh Hart said Monday after the team's shootout in Charlotte, N.C. “So we've just got to make sure we stay afloat during that time. I think we have The pieces needed to do that. So we have to focus on that and hope he recovers soon.
The next schedule is friendly against the Knicks, who occupy fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a score of 29-17 this season.
They face the hapless Hornets (10-34) on Monday night. After that, they host six straight home games. Eight days off during the All-Star break provides Randle with extra time to rest as well.
The team has yet to announce who will start in Randle's place, though Hart should be the favorite to do so with Anunoby sliding forward. If Randle's rehab doesn't go as well as the Knicks expected, they will have time to shuffle the roster. The trade deadline is February 8.
New York has turned into the most physical team in the NBA, outpacing anyone who comes to Madison Square Garden these days. Randle, a brute force on the offensive end and on the glass, is a big part of that identity. He made his third All-Star appearance in four seasons, averaging 24.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists.
Whether Hart starts or someone else starts, no one can replicate Randle's production.
“I think it will be a team (effort),” Hart said. “Unless between now and game time I can gain 45 pounds of mostly muscle.”
The Knicks, whose starting goaltender, Donte DiVincenzo, echoes similar sentiments to Hart — without the size.
“He's a big guy,” DiVincenzo said. “A lot of times he's on the weak side, collecting those rebounds. It's going to take two or three guys to keep the big guys off the boards. The guards — Jalen (Brunson), me and Quentin (Grimes) — we're going to have to fly out there. Josh is a good player.” “Og. They're going to have some bigger objects on them. So it's up to us to fly over there and help them and also go over there and grab the board.”
Randle was injured late in the fourth quarter of the 125-109 win over the Heat. He drove to the basket and tried to jump over Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr., who tried to take over. Randle, who committed a blocking foul, fell and landed on his right shoulder, which came out of position.
The 29-year-old quickly went to the locker room, did not shoot the free throws, and did not return to the field.
When asked if he was concerned about the injury, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau responded with one word: “Very.”
“He's a guy who plays through things, and that's what you love about him,” Thibodeau said. “He's a warrior. So, any time someone comes back, you know it's something. I don't want to speculate until we get the information.”
(Photo: Vincent Carchietta/USA Today)
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