Knicks’ Julius Randle expected to miss a few weeks with dislocated shoulder: Sources

Knicks’ Julius Randle expected to miss a few weeks with dislocated shoulder: Sources

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New York Knicks forward Julius Randle is expected to miss at least a few weeks with a dislocated shoulder, league sources said Monday.

The news comes after Randle suffered the injury during Saturday’s win over the Miami Heat. He underwent 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.

The optimism is a pick-up for the Knicks, who have rolled ever 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-notch teams, such as the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers. Meanwhile, Randle has played at an All-Star level during this period.

“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 make sure 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.”

The upcoming schedule is friendly to the Knicks, who are 29-17 on the season, fourth in the Eastern Conference.

They face the hapless Hornets (10-34) on Monday evening. After that, they host six consecutive home games. Eight days off during the All-Star break provides extra time for Randle to rest, as well.

The team has not said yet who will start in Randle’s place, though Hart should be the favorite to do so with Anunoby sliding down to power forward. If Randle’s rehab doesn’t go as well as the Knicks anticipate, they have time to amend the roster. The trade deadline is Feb. 8.

New York has morphed into arguably the NBA’s most physical team, beating up anyone who comes into Madison Square Garden these days. Randle, a brute force on the offensive end and on the glass, is a massive part of that identity. He’s made a case for 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 does, no one person can replicate Randle’s production.

“I think it’s gonna be a collective (effort),” Hart said. “Unless between now and game time I can put on 45 pounds of mostly muscle.”

Knicks starting shooting guard, Donte DiVincenzo, echos a similar sentiment to Hart — without the size.

“He’s a big dude,” DiVincenzo said. “A lot of the times he’s down on the weak side, collecting those rebounds. It’s going to take two or three guys to get the big dudes off the boards. The guards — Jalen (Brunson) and myself, Quentin (Grimes) — we’re going to have to fly in there. Josh is a good rebounder. OG. They’re going to have some bigger bodies on them. So it’s up to us to fly in there and help them out and also just kind of go in there and grab the board.”

Randle was injured late in the fourth quarter of the 125-109 victory over the Heat. He drove to the basket and attempted to jump over Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr., who tried to take a charge. Randle, who got the blocking foul, fell and landed on his right shoulder, which popped out of place.

The 29-year-old quickly headed to the locker room, did not shoot the free throws and did not return to the court.

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. And so, any time someone walks back, you know it’s something. I don’t wanna speculate until we have the information.”

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(Photo: Vincent Carchietta / USA Today)

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