Knicks center Mitchell Robinson could return Friday against Wizards

There’s a good chance that Mitchell Robinson could return as early as Friday in New York Knicks‘ final preseason game.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said that Robinson is close to being clear for full contact, according to SNY’s Ian Begley.

“Ideally, yes,” Thibodeau told reporters before Wednesday’s game against Detroit when asked if Robinson could play in their final preseason game. “Every day there’s more contact. There’s more to what he’s doing. And then you want to see how he responds the next day.”

Last week, Thibodeau said that Robison was cleared for some contact. But the Knicks have taken a cautious approach to avoid any setback in the 23-year old center’s recovery. Robinson’s physical activity has ramped up in the last week to get him into game shape.

“There’s still the conditioning element of it. And he’s done a lot. He’s come every night. He’s putting a lot of extra work in. So we feel good where he is,” Thibodeau said of Robinson.

It had been more than six months since Robinson underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot.

Meanwhile, Nerlens Noel will miss his third preseason game, but Thibodeau said he’s close to returning from a sore right knee injury. Noel has been a full participant in the Knicks’ practices since their road win in Washington over the weekend.

Noel earlier indicated that it’s more like a hamstring issue than his knee. Kemba Walker was given the night off as the Knicks will play the Pistons that are missing eight players, including top overall pick Cade Cunningham.

Derrick Rose will start in place of Walker.

The Knicks will wrap up their preseason campaign with a rematch against the Wizards on Friday in the Garden before opening their season against Boston Celtics next Wednesday.

Celtics coach Ime Udoka confirmed that Al Horford would be out against the Knicks after testing positive for COVID-19, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

Jaylen Brown also tested positive for COVID-19 earlier, but his status on the opening night is unclear.

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