Knicks: Taj Gibson returns, Nerlens Noel doubtful to play vs Magic

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Taj Gibson is expected to make his season debut for the New York Knicks Sunday night against the Orlando Magic.

Gibson missed the Knicks’ first two games after becoming a first-time father last Friday. Meanwhile, Nerlens Noel remains doubtful to play against the Magic. Noel has been nursing knee soreness though coach Tom Thibodeau hinted that he’s near to returning to the active lineup.

But even without their top two backup centers, the Knicks were too much for the rebuilding Magic. The Knicks set a franchise-record 24 three-pointers in a 121-96 victory over the Magic for their first 2-0 start in nine years.

“This is a very good Knicks basketball team. A very tough, physical basketball team,” Magic’s rookie coach Jamahl Mosley said after Friday’s embarrassing loss to the Knicks. “We got spread out a little bit too much… because (the Knicks) spread the floor so well. We talked about the guys that they have that are individually very talented. And they were, early on, were making the extra pass and knocking down shots.”

The Knicks’ offense had been juiced up by the addition of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier and their small-ball lineup during non-Mitchell Robinson minutes.

It will be interesting to watch how Thibodeau will balance his rotation once Gibson and Noel return.

Julius Randle and the much-improved sophomore Obi Toppin have played together for 23 minutes during the Knicks’ impressive 2-0 start. The Randle-Toppin lineups have outscored their opponents by 21.

Robinson has also been stellar since his return from a foot injury. The 23-year old center averages 8.5 points on a staggering 80 percent shooting from the field, 13 rebounds, 1.5 assists, one block in 31.5 minutes.

Against the Magic, the third-youngest team in the league whose roster’s average age is 24.7 years, there is no rush to bring back Noel.

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Knicks big men Nerlens Noel, Taj Gibson out vs Magic

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New York Knicks‘ centers Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson will not play against the Orlando Magic Friday night, coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters before tipoff.

Noel is still nursing a sore left knee, but Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said he’s close to returning. He has now missed six straight games dating back to the preseason.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Gibson, who became a father last Tuesday, made the trip to Orlando but will not play for the second straight game.

Thibodeau will likely start Mitchell Robinson, who had a monster season debut (11 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks), at center with rookie Jericho Sims backing him up.

Against a very young Orlando team that will start Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter, Jr. in the paint, Thibodeau will have another chance to experiment with the small-ball lineup that was effective against the Boston Celtics.

The Knicks have outscored the Celtics by 12 points during the 16 minutes Julius Randle, and Obi Toppin played together.

Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic will be missing four players led by key players Markelle Fultz (knee) and Jonathan Isaac (knee), who are still recuperating from their injuries. Joining them in the sickbay are Chuma Okeke (hip) and Michael Carter-Williams (ankle).

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Knicks Notes: Julius Randle in mid-season form, Taj Gibson adds new element to his game

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The New York Knicks overcame the Detroit Pistons by a score of 108–100 on Wednesday evening. The Knicks have now scored over 100 points in all three of their preseason games, with the final contest coming on Friday against the Washington Wizards at 7:30 PM.

In the victory, the starting team contributed significantly aside from Evan Fournier, who posted just five points in 26 minutes. However, the contributions of Julius Randle and Taj Gibson stood out the most, combining for 50 points on the evening.

Randle seems to be in mid-season form, shooting 11-of-19 from the field and connecting on 4-of-7 three-point shots. He also contributed 11 rebounds, five assists, and one steal. If Randle can continue building upon his first All-Star performance in 2021, the Knicks will find themselves in a great position after the additions of Fournier and Kemba Walker, who upgraded the shooting guard and point guard positions.

While Randle started the game slowly, late in the third quarter, he posted 16 of his 29 points. He shot just 40% from the field in the first half, but Randle shook off intense defense by Jerami Grant and began knocking down shots at an efficient rate.

However, Julius wasn’t the only player to dominate with his shooting, as a big man Taj Gibson also had an impressive outing, contributing 21 points. Gibson shot 9-of-14 from the field and even hit a three-point shot while picking up nine rebounds to assist and two blocks.

Gibson displayed his shooting abilities from the mid-range, bringing another element to a team that lacked a scoring center. While Gibson is a reserve option as Mitchell Robinson is expecting to make a return in the final preseason game, he can clearly constitute in a unique way.

The Knicks have also asked Nerlens Noel to begin taking shots and helping the offense in that fashion, so we could see a more modernized approach from Tom Thibodeau’s team this upcoming season.

Nonetheless, the Knicks are off to a phenomenal start having beaten all three of their preseason opponents by eight points or more. While the preseason doesn’t exactly indicate how the team will perform during the regular campaign, it gives us a good idea of the player’s chemistry and momentum as we near October 20 against the Boston Celtics.

Tom Thibodeau coaches Knicks hard in preseason win against Pistons

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The game was practically over as the New York Knicks were up by 11 with 23 seconds to go. But Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was still in a competitive and combative mood. He argued with the referee on what he felt was a non-call after a defender charged at his rookie guard, Miles McBride, that led to a turnover.

It was a recurring scene on an October night that had the intensity of June.

“Everyone has to be themselves. I’m not saying my way is for everyone. I know my way is for me, and everything matters to me,” said Thibodeau, explaining his serious approach to a preseason game that holds no bearing in the standing.

In the opening half, the Knicks were uncharacteristic and erratic, where an injury-plagued and a young Detroit Pistons team led by as many as eight points. They were a step slow against the Pistons, which played like a well-oiled machine despite missing eight players, including top overall pick Cade Cunningham (right ankle) and their top sophomores Saddiq Bey (left ankle) and Killian Hayes (concussion).

The Knicks had to dig deep and needed a big second half from Julius Randle to rally past the Pistons, 108-100, Wednesday night in the Garden and stay unbeaten in preseason.

They improved to 3-0 and 6-1 overall under Thibodeau in meaningless games (dating back to last year’s preseason) that mean everything to him.

“For us, we’re an organization that’s building right now. We want to get established. Our fight is continuing every day. And I love the fight in our guys,” Thibodeau said.

When push came to shove, the Knicks turned to their bread and butter that fueled their stunning fourth seed finish in the East last season — Randle and their defense.

Randle started slow after skipping Saturday’s win in Washington to attend to his wife Kendra, who delivered their second child last Friday. But he found his rhythm in the second half, leading the Knicks’ comeback.

The 26-year old forward was unstoppable in the third quarter, unloading 16 of his team’s 30 points.

Randle drilled in three straight three-pointers during a torrid stretch that enabled them to grab the lead. A 10-0 run to end the quarter turned a 56-52 halftime deficit into an 82-77 Knicks lead.

Their defense roared back to life in the second half and forced the Pistons to 38.6 percent shooting.

Matched up against Jerami Grant, the Pistons’ go-to guy that he beat for the Most Improved Player award, Randle flashed his All-Star and All-NBA form, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in 34 minutes. Grant led the Pistons with 18 points and four rebounds in 31 minutes. 

“Every game is gearing towards the real thing, so that’s what it’s about,” said Randle, who didn’t mind the big minutes in the preseason, whereas around the league, the starters are either getting rested or playing token minutes.

“Actually, I’m happy we had a game like this where we weren’t shooting well and weren’t in a great rhythm and had to figure it out. So it’s a good test for us mentally to get ready for the season.”

The Pistons gave them everything they got. But no offense to Detroit, this game was supposed to be a walk in Madison Square Park. In their first two preseason games, New York won by an average margin of 19.5 points.

After throwing up 37 and 52 three-point attempts in their first two preseason wins, the Knicks were held down to 33 but still made 13 of them for still a respectable 39.4 percent clip.

Taj Gibson even hit one as he turned back the clock in a vintage performance.

Gibson exploded for 21 points in his third straight start and came one rebound shy of a double-double. When asked where he found the fountain of youth, the 36-year old Brooklyn native answered the question with a real New Yorker sense of humor.

“I guess it’s the New York’s Bodega’s bacon egg and cheese,” said a smiling Gibson referring to the menu staple of the small-owned, operated convenience stores in every corner of New York.

Gibson and his forever teammate Derrick Rose were the only bright spots in the Knicks’ sluggish first half.

Rose, who started for Kemba Walker (rest), scored 12 of his 14 points in the opening half. The former MVP added five assists and two steals in 30 minutes.

Veteran guard Alec Burks was the only New York reserve in double figures with 12 points.

In the second half, Thibodeau yanked rookie Jericho Sims in favor of undrafted Aamir Simms, who is vying for a two-way spot with the team.

Simms made a good account of himself, providing solid interior defense while contributing two points and four rebounds in 12 minutes. Sims, the 58th overall pick, was scoreless in six minutes.

Playing time for the two rookie big men and even Gibson would become scarce once Mitchell Robinson (broken foot) and Nerlens Noel (sore knee) return to the lineup, which could come as early as Friday’s preseason finale.

“At halftime, right before [Thibodeau] walked in, I was telling the young guys [whenever they miss a play] ‘do not look over to the sideline.’ Like if you look at him, it’s going to f–k up your game,” said Rose as the media room burst into laughter. “So do not look at him. Just raise your hand, everybody knows you messed up, you made a mistake, and just keep it going, and gotta give that same effort throughout the entire game.”

“When I was younger, I used to look over to the sideline a lot, and you feel his emotions, which is kinda strange, bro. I thought, ‘wow’ then I just raise my hand,” said Rose cracking a smile, “and put my head down. But even then, he’s a winner. So you can express yourself — how you want to — as a man. You could be vocal with him, yell, but right after that, you got to get right back on track to understand that the goal is to win the game, and that’s something Thibs is great at.”

Rose, who has become immune to Thibodeau’s outbursts, said that it’s just part of his competitive nature. And after each game, it’s like nothing happened, like his long-time coach is suffering from amnesia.

Thibodeau was yelling at his players, challenging calls, coaching them hard in every possession while completely ignoring the scoreboard. Preseason games may not count, but Thibodeau views them as opportunities to get better, which is what truly matters.

Meaningless games in early October is Thibodeau’s final test run before unveiling his refurbished toy, reloaded with new offensive weapons, that he hopes would work and grind its way to perfection and finally outrace the competition.

“We can’t fool ourselves into thinking that we’re ready,” Thibodeau said. “Being honest with ourselves, looking at the film, understanding why we either won or why we’ve lost. And to focus on that improvement is critical each day.”

At the end of his post-game presser, Thibodeau cracked a joke: “I’m just a laidback dude.”

But during the final seconds of an impending victory in a meaningless game that matters to him, Thibodeau was in all his glory with his hands up in the air and his head shaking.

“Are you all surprised? Nothing’s going to change, bro,” Rose said. “If you’re a winner, you can respect that all the way through.”

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Knicks Injury Update: Mitchell Robinson cleared for some contact

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson

On Wednesday, New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau provided an encouraging update on the status of their young center, Mitchell Robinson.

More than six months since he underwent surgery to repair a broken foot, Robinson has been medically cleared to take some contact. But the Knicks remain cautious and not in a rush to bring back the 23-year old center to the active lineup.

[He’s been cleared for] Some contact but he hasn’t gone through contact [drills] in practice,” Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s practice. “So that would be the next step. You can’t go from zero to a hundred, there’s a build-up that he has to go through.”

Robinson, according to Thibodeau, looks great in practice despite being limited to non-contact drills. He didn’t provide a specific timeline for when Robinson will progress to the last hurdle of his recovery.

“He’s coming along. Again, we’re not going to rush it. But he’s making progress every day. He’s doing more and more so we just have to be patient,” Thibodeau said.

“We work our way through it and when he’s ready to go, he’ll go. But he gives us an added dimension. So he’s done a good job with all the things that he can do. He’s picking things up in practice basically doing non-contact [drills] in practice. So the next step will be the contact and then once you can get through that then he’ll be ready to go.”

The Knicks picked up an impressive win in their preseason opener against Indiana Pacers despite the continued absence of Robinson in the lineup. Nerlens Noel also did not play though Thibodeau said he was given the day off. The plan is to rest a key rotation player in each preseason game.

“[We’re] Just letting it happen organically that when someone needs a day [off], they get it,” Thibodeau said. “Our job is to make sure everyone is ready and so every day, everyone who’s here we’re working with to prepare them for when their opportunity comes, and to Jericho’s credit when he was called upon, he was ready to go. And so we expect that of everyone.”

Rookie Jericho Sims, the 58th overall pick, came through with a solid performance in 24 minutes off the bench backing up the 36-year old veteran Taj Gibson.

Sims finished with eight points, six rebounds, and two assists, outworking the tandem of Indiana’s backup bigs Goga Bitadze and rookie Isaiah Jackson, who was selected 36 picks ahead of him.

Gibson stepped up big time as a starter. He was a game-high plus-minus +22 against the Pacers’ starting frontline of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. The Brooklyn native played a vital role in the Knicks’ sizzling first half that set the tone for the 125-104 rout. He collected 14 points (on 6-of-9 shooting), six rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block in 21 minutes.

The Knicks have three more preseason games before they open their season against Boston Celtics on Oct. 20. Thibodeau did not rule out Robinson returning in one of those games.

“If he can [return], great. If he can’t, that’s fine too. When he’s ready to go, he’ll go,” Thibodeau said. “His health is the priority and so he’s been cleared [for some contact] and that part is very encouraging. And now it’s the conditioning aspect of it to prepare him to play in an NBA game.”

The addition of Sims, who is eligible to play a maximum of 50 regular-season games as one of the Knicks’ two-way players, gives the Knicks some wiggle room to wait until Robinson is a hundred percent ready.

“I’m anxious to see what we look like when Mitch comes back. Obviously, Nerlens is a terrific shot blocker and rim protector and Taj has been great insurance for us. And I thought Jericho gave us really good minutes [Tuesday] night. And he’s a young guy that is learning and he’ll get better as we go along,” Thibodeau said.

While Thibodeau is anxious for Robinson’s return, that has to take a backseat for a while as he’s preoccupied with bringing along his new backcourt of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier to his system.

So far, he liked what he saw in their preseason debut.

“They fit well because they’re interchangeable and Kemba can play with and without the ball and Julius (Randle) can play with and without it. Evan can do the same. RJ (Barrett) can do the same,” Thibodeau said.

“So I think if we play with movement and we share the ball and make the right rim read and the thing I like about all those four guys are terrific downhill players. So if we get downhill then make the right rim reads then the game becomes easy for everyone. Just make quick decisions and I thought we did that.”

All starters finished in double figures, and their ball movement was crisp.

Walker commanded the pick and roll well — pulling up for mid-range jumpers when he was open and passing the ball when he got blitzed. He finished with 12 p points on 50 percent shooting and added four assists in 21 minutes.

Fournier moved without the ball and created opportunities off the dribble. The Frenchman swingman had 12 points and went 5-of-6 from the stripes.

Barrett benefited from his new backcourt’s scoring threat as he got wide open several times. He pounced on the opportunity and scored 17 points on 50 percent shooting, including 3-for-6 from the outside.

Randle still came away with a near double-double of 20 points and nine rebounds despite not dominating the ball as frequently as he did last season. He did that in three quarters. But the most significant impact of the addition of Walker and Fournier to the staring unit was on Randle’s game was the quality of shots. His efficiency improved as he hit 50 percent of his shots against the Pacers.

“So you’re also trying to get ready for a season because you only have four [preseason] games,” Thibodeau said. “You know we have two new guys that we have to get into our rotation along with Mitch combing back and so that’s going to be the priority.

“And then the development of the young guys, that’s going to come in practice and we have to make sure when the ball goes up at the start of the season we’re ready to go.”

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Taj Gibson and Julius Randle prove how the Knicks have changed their culture for the better

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It was only a year ago that the New York Knicks were an undesirable destination for free agents and big names. However, in just one season, they’ve turned their entire organization around from the bottom up.

Elevating the culture and creating a winning environment has sparked players’ interest around the league, which led to a successful free agency for the team this off-season, bringing in Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker, two players who significantly increase the talent on the roster.

It is clear that the Knicks have restored their image, and two of their own players back up that assessment. Veteran center Taj Gibson, who spent the second half of the season last year with New York, signed a two-year extension to stay with the team. While Gibson understands he might not be a priority on the floor, he’s looking to serve as a mentor and help the team in any way possible. But his comments on hitting free agency and his desire to stay with the Knicks are eye-opening.

“It was real frustrating, but it was a good frustrating,” Gibson said of the free agency experience. “But at the same time, I knew I made the right decision. Money doesn’t move me, I just wanted to be a Knick.”

Comparably, All-Star power forward Julius Randle signed a four-year extension this off-season, and similar to Gibson referenced his desire to be a Knick over the amount of money he’s making. The team has created an atmosphere that players want to be a part of, rather than cashing in and passing on the opportunity to build a franchise. The Knicks are not only rewarding loyal players, but they are also encouraging them to do what’s best for the team and not themselves as an individual.

“The money was one thing, but for me, it was more about the situation as far as my happiness, the basketball situation, my family, just being stable and being in New York and really just continuing to build this thing up,” Randle said Friday. “When I signed here two years ago, this was my vision, to be able to lock in something long term and build something from the ground up. That’s what we’re doing. All hands on deck.”

A culture shift has been a long time in the making, and the Knicks are finally pointing in the right direction. With plenty of veteran talent on the roster and young players to complement, this upcoming season could prove to be just as exciting, if not more, than the 2020-21 campaign, which surprised even the most pessimistic fans.

Taj Gibson returns on a one-year deal; Knicks still under the cap limit

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Veteran big man Taj Gibson agreed to run it back with coach Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks for one more year.

Ian Begley of SNY first reported the deal that will pay Gibson $2.7 million next season, the equivalent to the veteran minimum’s salary for an NBA player with 10 years of experience. Gibson’s salary would not count against the Knicks’ salary cap.

After re-joining the team mid-season as frontline insurance, the 36-year old Brooklyn native averaged 5.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 20.8 minutes per game. He shot 62.7% from the field while being Thibodeau’s emergency backup, who ended up playing a pivotal role after injuries to Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel threatened Knicks’ playoff chances.

The Knicks can officially make the deal once they go over the cap. John Hollinger of The Athletic explained that the Knicks used their Early Bird rights on Derrick Rose’s three-year, $43 million deal, giving them some wiggle room to make another move.

“The Knicks have just under $9 million in cap room remaining and could extend it to $11.4 million by waiving Luca Vildoza’s $3.3 million number (the league would put a cap hold of $925,259 in its place); the Knicks could also extend their room by putting little-used Kevin Knox ($5.8 million) into a sign-and-trade,” Hollinger wrote.

The Knicks can use the remaining cap room to sign a point guard or a wing.

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Should the Knicks retain Nerlens Noel or Taj Gibson as their reserve center?

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The New York Knicks had an incredible regular season in 2021, led by All-Star Julius Randle and the emergence of head coach Tom Thibodeau. Focusing on elite defense, the Knicks ranked first in points allowed per game, averaging 104.7. However, their offense struggled at times, as the team averaged 107 points, good for 26th in the NBA.

The lack of a true scoring big man played its part in the postseason, and there are several options this upcoming off-season that could represent an upgrade. The Knicks could try and trade for a player like Myles Turner from the Indiana Pacers, considering they have another C/PF in Domantes Sabonis, who ultimately makes Turner expendable at the right price.

However, the team does have Mitchell Robinson returning on the final year of his rookie contract, and while he offers far more athleticism and defensive prowess on the floor, he’s also not much of a scorer. Robinson has never averaged over 10 points per game, reaching 9.7 in 2020 over 61 games. This past year, he was plagued with injuries, suffering a broken hand and foot at different points in the season.

His backup stepped up valiantly with Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson helping carry the team defensively at times down the stretch. The question is, which one of the two should be retained, with Robinson expecting to make a return next year?

Should the New York Knicks retain Nerlens Noel or Taj Gibson?

Nerlens Noel:

Noel had himself a fantastic year with the Knicks, averaging 5.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and a career-high 2.2 blocks. At times, he showcased why he’s a former first-round pick, but his inability to produce points in the paint hurt the Knicks at times. Nerlens was on a one-year, $5 million deal, and will hit the market this off-season looking for a new home. The Knicks could consider retaining him, but they have to make a decision with Taj Gibson as well, who would likely be cheaper but is far older at 35 years old compared to Noel, 27.

Taj Gibson:

Gibson was arguably one of the Knicks’ best players during the postseason, given his experience and tenacity. The Brooklyn native is turning 36 in just a few days, so his best years are undoubtedly behind him. He averaged 5.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks, his best number since 2015. He played in 45 games for the Knicks, signing a one-year, $2.28 million deal after Robinson went down with a broken foot.

Taj brings a few essential things to the team, including veteran leadership, a ton of experience, and heart. He would likely be cheaper than Noel given his age, and I like his savviness in the paint. I believe the Knicks will likely roll with Gibson over Noel (if they end up choosing one of them to keep), who had issues against bigger centers regarding boxing them out and recording rebounds.

Who do you think the New York Knicks should retain? Let me know in the comments!

Knicks’ Taj Gibson details why New York has been so successful and what’s to come

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The New York Knicks are preparing to take on the Atlanta Hawks in Game 3 on Friday evening, and if the first two games give us any indication of what this contest will be like, aggressive and intense might be the best two words to use.

Given the hostility that Knick fans implemented on Atlanta while at MSG, we can expect something similar as New York goes on the road for the next two games. Luckily, the Knicks did claim a win in Game 2, which ended up being significant as they guaranteed themselves a game 5 at The Garden.

However, it is clear that some players are simply more prepared to take on the postseason jitters and energy with more confidence. All-Star Julius Randle struggled considerably in both games, finally picking it up in the second half of Game 2 to help his team make a comeback from 15 points down. Others were far more prepared mentally to face the crowd and live energy, and one of those essential players was Taj Gibson.

Gibson joined the Knicks after Mitchell Robinson went down with a fractured foot, and the veteran big man has been an absolute godsend for a team that lacked a physical presence inside. While he’s only averaging 5.4 points, 3.4 defensive rebounds, and 20.8 minutes per game, he currently has his best average block rate at 1.1 per game since 2016.

In Game 2, the Knicks wouldn’t have walked away with a victory without Gibson and his effort. His constant energy and desire to get after the ball and remain aggressive was a catalyst on defense, forcing stops and giving Knick shooters more opportunities to find the hoop.

Taj Gibson has become a leader for the New York Knicks:

Gibson detailed his excitement to play with this team, the reason they’re so close, and the trust they have with one another because of head coach Tom Thibodeau.

“The one thing about when you play for a Thibs team is that you’re going to put in a lot of work, you’re going to come together, you’re going to work every day as hard as you can,’’ Gibson said. “But along those trials and tribulations you become a family, you become real tight knit, you believe in each other. The way Thibs coaches he brings the whole group together, believing that it’s only us. So that’s kind of the mindset we take in. I just be myself, be the normal Taj I’ve been. It’s been working out for us. But it’s fun. We’ve got young guys, we’ve got a mixture of vets. Just pieces together, everybody works together, it’s a great atmosphere and it shows when we play.’’

This team seems to have a special bond, as they are mixed with a melting pot of veteran and youth faces, but they all understand their roles and have worked extremely hard to play at a high level this year. There’s no question they can defeat the Atlanta Hawks and make a postseason run, they just need to be firing on all cylinders.
With Nerlens Noel suffering an ankle sprain in Game one, Gibson has been asked to be a focal point. There is hope that Robinson can play on Friday evening, but even so, the Knicks feel confident that Taj can get the job done one way or another.

Knicks bracing for worst-case scenario with Mitchell Robinson’s injury

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Next man up!

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has no other recourse but to lean on Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson as the next men up to fill up the gaping hole vacated by Mitchell Robinson.

The 23-year old Robinson, the Knicks’ defensive anchor, suffered a fractured right hand in the Knicks’ 109-101 win over the Washington Wizards Friday night. He hurt his right hand when his hand collided with Julius Randle’s elbow while going for a rebound. Robinson had 10 points, 14 rebounds, and four steals in 20 minutes before he left.

(Editor’s note: ESPN Insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported minutes after this story came out that Robinson will undergo sugery and is expected to be out four to six weeks).

Robinson injury explained

A New York City-based Performance Physical Therapist & High-Performance Consultant had a dimmer outlook before Wojnarowski’s report.

“I watched the tape of the play. It looks like [Robinson] sustained the fracture in a wrist extended position, which is most commonly associated with distal radial fractures,” Dr. Ernest S. Eusebio told Empire Sports Media.

Dr. Eusebio, who has worked with NBA, MLB, NFL athletes, and Olympians, is the founder of the Wolves Performance & Lifestyle Collective, an all-encompassing high-performance consultancy providing solutions in Professional Sport, Entertainment, & Fortune 500. He is also an awarded clinician by the American Health Council (Best in Patient Care).

Dr. Eusebio explained that there are several types of that injury.

“But typically they all involve fractures or displacement of the local structures proximal to the distal radius. Bones typically heal within a 6-8 week time frame, but high-level rim protectors, like Mitch, who have to consistently use their hands to anchor defense and finish plays at the rim, might need to undergo specialized performance physical therapy for about 10-12 weeks to feel normal again,” Dr. Eusebio added.

After Wojnarowski’s report came out, Dr. Eusebio said that “historically, the 4-6 weeks is the timeline of clearance to run through some practice time.”

“They found a fourth metacarpal fracture. Better outlook than a true distal radial fracture,” Dr. Eusebio explained. “It’s still the same region of the hand.”

Thibodeau doesn’t want to dwell on the negative as the Knicks are in the thick of the fight for a playoff spot this season. Entering Saturday’s home game against the Houston Rockets, the Knicks are on the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with their 12-15 record.

Life without Robinson

Thibodeau will lean on their depth, and Kevin Knox, whose status he earlier described as situational, may find his way back into the rotation.


“We’ll have some flexibility. We could play smaller,” Thibodeau said after last night’s win in Washington.

“I like what Taj gives us. Obviously, the great value and the things that Mitch brought to the team was the defensive component, and I feel that Nerlens does many of those things extremely well. And of course, Taj, that’s been his strength throughout his career. So I don’t want to lose that piece of it. But I like the way Obi’s coming on. He’s giving us good minutes. So we have that option. We can downsize and can play Kevin (Knox) at the 4. Play Julius at the 5. There’s a number of things that we can do,” he added. 

Collective effort

Thibodeau was using a tight 10-man rotation before Robinson’s injury.

Noel is usually the first center off the bench to spell Robinson. He anchored the Knicks’ defense in the second half last night, and he is expected to replace Robinson in the starting lineup. He had four points, four rebounds, and three blocks in 16 minutes, while Gibson is averaging 7.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench since Derrick Rose’s arrival.

“I like the versatility of the team. But anytime you lose a player of Mitch’s caliber, we have to make sure we’re playing hard. We can’t replace that individually. We have to do it collectively, and everyone has gonna have to step up,” Thibodeau stressed. 

Life without Robinson begins today when they go up against the undermanned Houston Rockets, who will be missing key players Victor Oladipo (sore right foot) and Christian Wood (ankle sprain). Veteran bruiser PJ Tucker is questionable for the Rockets.

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