Severely shorthanded Knicks face tall task vs Raptors with Robinson, Walker out

mitchell robinson, knicks

The New York Knicks will begin the new year severely shorthanded after Mitchell Robinson entered the health and safety protocols.

On Saturday, the Knicks announced that Robinson is the latest to test positive for COVID-19. Julius Randle, Nerlens Noel, Jericho Sims, and Wayne Selden are still in the protocols.

Robinson had nine points and 12 rebounds in their 95-80 loss to Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night. Oklahoma City’s rising star Shai-Gilgeous Alexander is the only other player from that game to enter the protocols.

Newsday’s Steve Popper added that assistant coaches Johnnie Bryant, Kenny Payne, and Dice Yoshimoto are also out.

Kemba Walker will also miss his second straight game due to a sore left knee, while Evan Fournier, who had a rough 1 of 8 shooting night in Oklahoma City, is questionable with a sore right ankle.

Walker’s injury bears watching as soreness is on his arthritic knee.

“I don’t know [how serious the injury is], because he started his warm-up, and then he stopped. And then [trainer] Anthony [Goenaga] was looking at him and just felt it, you know, let’s get [knee] examined, and then we’ll go from there,” Thibodeau said after the New Year eve’s loss.

The Knicks’ injury tally has already reached nine players. Danuel House, Jr. (dislocated finger), Derrick Rose (ankle surgery), and Luca Samanic (foot) round up the list.

Damyean Dotson and Matt Mooney got a second 10-day contract on Friday. But neither player is a center.

That leaves Taj Gibson as the only remaining center for the Knicks. New York coach Tom Thibodeau might have no choice but use Obi Toppin as small-ball five with either Kevin Knox or RJ Barrett as a power forward during the non-Gibson minutes.

The severely undermanned Knicks will be hard-pressed against the Toronto Raptors, who are nearing full strength with rookie stud Scottie Barnes listed as probable.

The Raptors are coming off a 116-108 win over the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night, drawing double figures from Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Fred Van Vleet, and Gary Trent, Jr.

The Knicks will be looking to sign a temporary big man via the 10-day hardship rule to fill the hole.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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