According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, New York Knicks forward Julius Randle is still undergoing tests on his dislocated right shoulder to determine the exact steps in his rehab. Woj added that the Knicks remain hopeful that Randle’s prognosis will be in terms of “weeks, not months.”
As testing continues on Knicks All-Star F Julius Randle’s right shoulder, indications are optimistic that his absence will be measured in weeks and not months, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 29, 2024
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Randle’s initial MRI on Saturday showed no significant damage.
Sources: Knicks star Julius Randle is expected to be sidelined for at least a few weeks with a right shoulder dislocation. Appears to be a sigh of relief for New York as initial reviews of MRI reveal no significant damage. pic.twitter.com/b4JAwMI0GJ
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 29, 2024
Randle was declared out for tonight’s game against Charlotte yesterday. But will have to wait for further info to know the exact timetable for his return.
Randle suffered the injury as he was barrelling toward the basket on a drive as the Knicks were in transition late in the fourth quarter of the Knicks’ win over the Miami Heat on Saturday. As Jaime Jaquez attempted to draw a change, Randle landed awkwardly with his right arm extended.
On a positive note, the Knicks appeared to be upbeat as they went through a shootaround earlier today as they prepared for the Hornets.
“That has us in good spirits, that he’s not gonna be out too long,” Knicks wing Josh Hart said Monday following the team’s shootaround in Charlotte, N.C. “So we just gotta ensure that we kinda stay afloat during that time. I think we have the pieces to do that. So we gotta focus on that and hopefully he gets well soon.”
How long could Randle realistically be out?
While Randle is awaiting the recommendations from other doctors, New York Post’s Mark W. Sandchez spoke to a couple of New York City orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Dennis DeBernardis and Dr. Clint Soppe. Neither had evaluated Randle. But they concluded the best case scenario for Randle would be a two- or three-week absence, with the upper limits of six to eight weeks. Meanwhile, the worst case would be surgery that would likely end his season.
Surgery hasn’t been ruled out, but the testing so far provides a reason to believe that Randle can recover without it, added Ian Begley of SNY.tv.
There’s nothing conclusive yet regarding Julius Randle’s timetable, per league source. Source said Randle will be out at least a few weeks, which was obvious given shoulder dislocation. Surgery hasn’t been ruled out but testing to date has led to some optimism it can be avoided.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) January 29, 2024
Sanchez said that if Randle does elect to go the surgical route, DeBernardis noted that a “speedy recovery” from surgery would be under three months. However, Soppe pointed out that a four- to six-month timetable was more likely.
No matter how long Randle is ultimately out, the Knicks will miss him.
Randle is the Knicks’ second-best offensive player and has played well over the last two months. The 29-year-old averages 24.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists while shooting 47.2% from the field, his best number as a Knick.
New York is fourth in the Eastern Conference at 29-18, a game behind the Philadelphia 76ers. The Knicks took a six-game winning streak into their matchup with Charlotte and are 12-2 since acquiring OG Anunoby.
How Will The Knicks Replace Randle?
Randle’s injury leaves the Knicks razor-thin upfront.
It appears that the Knicks will attempt to replace him internally, at least for the short term.
Anunoby will likely slide down to power forward, while Josh Hart is slated to start in place of Anunoby at the three. Precious Achiuwa, who has played well since coming to the Knicks, will see an increase in minutes, with more coming at the four-spot.
While Anunoby will likely be the starter while Randle is out, he was forced to sit out tonight’s game himself due to right elbow inflammation. Achiuwa picked up the start at the four instead.
First 5️⃣ pic.twitter.com/A63NHOxEbx
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 29, 2024
That means Jericho Sims will be Isaiah Hartenstein’s primary backup and could see a few minutes playing alongside Hartenstein.
Even before Randle’s injury, there has been talk that the Knicks would add someone to the frontcourt. But now, there is talk that Mitchell Robinson could return before the end of the season, though there is no firm confirmation he will be able to play again this year. Robinson underwent ankle surgery in mid-December.
Even if Robinson does return, it makes no sense for the Knicks not to pursue frontcourt help. Particularly if Randle is out for more than a couple of weeks. Robinson is an excellent rebounder and rim-protector but is essentially a liability on the offensive end.
Anunoby, Achiewa, and possibly Hart can up their offensive production. However, the three have yet to demonstrate an ability to be a consistent 20-point scorer (or even close in their careers.
New York has been linked to several players. Toronto Raptors’ Bruce Brown has been the most frequent player recently. Washington Wizards’ Daniel Gafford, Detroit Pistons’ Alec Burks, Utah Jazz Jordan Clarkson, and Portland Trail Blazers’ Malcolm Brogdon have also been rumored to draw interest from the Knicks.
Brown is an all-around player who would fit in nicely with the Knicks if Randle misses an extended period and Robinson can return. Brown is undersized and isn’t a scorer, even though he has shown the ability to have big games.
Gafford makes a ton of sense and would be perfect for the Knicks. But do the Knicks want to pay the price that the Wizards reportedly asked? Acquiring Gafford would likely mean Hartenstein would bolt as a free agent this summer. That could be the case anyway.
Burks, Brogdan, and Clarkson would bring the ball-handling and scoring that the Knicks could use, regardless of Randle’s status.
Still, the Knicks would likely need to add size unless Anunoby, Hart, and Achiuwa prove they can handle the four. Now, Randle and Mitchell being able to play again would negate this size need.