Knicks’ Julius Randle could still be battling injury upon eventual return

NBA: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets
Jan 23, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) drives to the basket against Brooklyn Nets forward Dorian Finney-Smith (28) and forward Cameron Johnson (2) during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks and all who are rooting for them to win it all this summer have had their fingers crossed that Julius Randle will be able to return from a crushing shoulder injury that has threatened his availability for much of the remaining 2023-24 NBA season.

The 2024 All-Star, who originally dislocated his shoulder against the Miami Heat on Jan. 27, may not get back to full strength when he retakes the floor, whenever that may be.

Knicks: Woj delivers discouraging news on Julius Randle’s recovery

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski went on NBA Countdown on Feb. 24 and revealed this about Randle’s recovery outlook and chances of needing surgery, saying in part:

“And it is to play even if he’s hurt and in some discomfort. That’s his goal right now — to try to get back and play and put anything off to the offseason. But that’s still fluid that’s not been fully decided,” Wojnarowski said.

Word originally broke that Randle’s return would be predicated on how well he responded to the treatment he was scheduled to receive in the shoulder.

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau also asserted that Randle was meeting all of his rehab milestones and was on a positive trajectory toward a return. Randle was originally adamant in wanting to avoid surgery, though he opened up to the possibility last week.

How will the Knicks compensate for Randle’s absence and potentially hampered status in his return?

It now appears that Randle’s recuperation may not come in full. The reigning All-NBA Third Team honoree was in the midst of a strong campaign, boasting averages of 24.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and five assists, along with his highest field goal percentage since 2018-19 at 47.2 percent.

His production is and will continue to be greatly missed as the Knicks look to overcome a 1-5 dry spell in their last six contests.

The Knicks have gotten strong play from backup big man Precious Achiuwa, who has averaged a double-double over his last five starts in Randle’s stead. He, along with a Knicks rotation slowly inching their way back to health, will be expected to hold down the fort until their All-Star returns and be ready to step up in big moments should Randle be placed on a minutes restriction or be unable to perform at max capacity.

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