Knicks’ Julius Randle could need surgery on injured shoulder

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) is helped up by teammates after being injured during the second half against the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks All-Star power forward Julius Randle is progressing in his rehab from a dislocated right shoulder, though he couldn’t rule out the possibility of needing surgery for the injury in the future when he spoke to the media Wednesday:

“I mean, we’ll see. There’s still necessary steps. It’s a process to everything. I have to weigh out everything ultimately and decide from there,” said Randle via the New York Post. “But right now I’m just focused on trying to avoid [surgery], obviously, and get back on the court as soon as I can.”

The Knicks need Julius Randle back as soon as possible

Randle suffered the injury on Jan. 27 against the Miami Heat, and the Knicks have felt his absence in a big way. New York is 4-5 in the nine games the three-time All-Star has missed, and it comes simultaneously with OG Anunoby’s elbow injury, for which he underwent surgery.

At that same time, they have seen Isaiah Hartenstein, Donte DiVincenzo, and Bojan Bogdanovic all miss time with injuries. Mitchell Robinson has also been out since December, though head coach Tom Thibodeau said earlier this week that he is no longer wearing a walking boot as he works his way back from foot surgery (h/t Kristian Winfield from the New York Daily News).

Both Anunoby and Randle are hopeful they can return before the end of the season, but the Knicks are going to have to stay afloat in a competitive Eastern Conference playoff race until they are back on the court. They will have a tough end to February with games against the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Golden State Warriors on deck, and it is unlikely that either of the two players will be back for those games.

Randle was playing some of the most consistent basketball of his career prior to the injury, averaging 25.5 points and nine rebounds while shooting 50% from the floor in the 40 games after his historically slow start to the season.

Tom Thibodeau remains optimistic about a Randle return

Despite the alarming update from Randle, Thibodeau painted a slightly brighter picture regarding the forward’s progress, though it was a relatively vague response.

“I’m not sure [about surgery], but I think the fact that he’s been working the way he’s been working, those are all good signs,” said Thibodeau via Newsday’s Steve Popper. “I haven’t heard anything other than he’s making good steady progress.”

In the short term, the Knicks will presumably have Precious Achiuwa continue to start in Randle’s place, who has seen a tremendous leap in rebounding and defense over the past several games. Achiuwa is averaging 13.9 points and 10.2 rebounds with 1.6 blocks over his last nine games.

By the end of February, the Knicks should have a clearer picture of what Randle’s timetable to return looks like.

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