Julius Randle’s dislocated shoulder doesn’t appear to be a worst-case scenario for the New York Knicks.
According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “indications are optimistic that his absence will be measured in weeks and not months.”
As of Monday morning, the Knicks have not officially disclosed the results of Randle’s MRI, which he underwent Saturday night following New York’s 125-109 victory over the Miami Heat. Initial X-rays showed that there was not much damage to the area, but the MRI was needed to get a more precise look.
Randle, who is averaging 24 points and 9.2 rebounds this season, suffered the injury with four-and-a-half minutes remaining in the comprehensive victory. Driving to the basket for a layup, he collided with Miami’s Jaime Jaquez Jr., who slid over in an attempt to draw a charge. Randle fell awkwardly on his right arm and immediately went down the tunnel to the locker room at Madison Square Garden.
The perceived elimination of a long-term absence provides a massive sigh of relief for a Knicks team that has been the best team in basketball this month. Since the arrival of OG Anunoby — and through the premier play of Randle and Jalen Brunson — the Knicks won 12 of 14 games in January entering a Monday-night matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
New York’s defense has played a major role in the torrid stretch, holding their opponents to the lowest field-goal percentage (43.6%), fewest three-pointers made per game (10.4), and points per game (100.4) in the entire NBA.
Randle has hit his stride in the process, averaging 25.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game on 48.7% shooting from the field over his last 16 games.
Anunoby, who has averaged 15.6 points per game to supplement his top-notch defensive play, could shift from small forward to Randle’s spot at power forward in the interim. That would allow Josh Hart to get a starting role at the 3 with Donte DiVincenzo receiving considerable minutes at that spot while Quentin Grimes gets more action at shooting guard, in the process. The Knicks could also use Precious Achiuwa at the 4, though it presents head coach Tom Thibodeau with a larger lineup with less versatility considering Isaiah Hartenstein is at the 5.