Knicks Injuries: OG Anunoby cleared for on-court activities…

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau announced on Thursday that injured wing OG Anunoby is inching closer to making his comeback, getting “cleared for shooting and other on-court activities” while expected to hit the (practice) ground running on Friday.

Anunoby has been out since January 27, when he last played a game for the Knicks since joining the franchise less than a month before that date right at the end of the 2023 calendar year. Anunoby was initially expected to play on Jan. 29 but he was scratched from the matchup against the Charlotte Hornets following pre-game warmups.

The Knicks later announced that OG had undergone elbow surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow, although it wasn’t quite clear when that had happened exactly.

“He’s been cleared for on-court work,” Thibodeau said, which means OG can now practice on his own. “He can shoot, dribble, pass—no contact yet. We’ll start that tomorrow. It’s premature [to predict when he can play]. He just cleared this next step. So all basketball activity aside from the contact will be the next thing. And then once that happens, he’ll be back.”

A few reports had emerged in the past few hours and days including some from insiders Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski forecasting a mid-March return to the court for Anunoby joining his teammates on the floor. Thibodeau, however, didn’t confirm that timeline on Thursday.

“Again, I think all that stuff is speculation,” Thibodeau said. “[The comeback will happen] when he’s ready to play. The good thing was him getting cleared today. Now you go into the next phase. He’ll be checked by our medical people daily and then we go from there. This next step is the important one. Once the contact is added, then that’s when he’ll be ready to go.”

The 26-year-old appeared in 14 games before getting sidelined as the Knicks put together a ridiculous 12-2 record in that span between Jan. 1 and Jan. 27, included. After that, however, New York has gone 6-8 including losing eight of their last 11 games through Feb. 29.

When asked about the reasons behind the defensive struggles the Knicks have suffered for the last month of play, Thibs said that it is “a combination [of things].”

Thibodeau explained his reasoning: “Obviously, it’s [OG going out], but also coinciding with that is Isaiah [Hartenstein] going out. So some of our rim protection is gone.”

Regarding Mitchell Robinson, Thibodeau said that his big man is out of the walking boot and that he’s been cleared for on-court activities, but also that he isn’t yet sprinting or leaping.

“The normal stuff. He’s following the protocol,” Thibodeau said. “He’s making really good progress. He’s no longer in a boot. He’s shooting, doing all that type of stuff. He hasn’t been cleared for contact yet.”

Both Julius Randle (out since Jan. 27 with a separated shoulder) and Mitchell Robinson (out since Dec. 7 with an ankle issue) haven’t been cleared yet although the former has been filmed hitting the court a few hours before tip-off in games played at MSG earlier this week to hoist some shots.

Speaking of Randle, former New York Knicks forward Channing Frye offered his advice to the three-time All-Star regarding his shoulder injury and potential surgery. Frye talked to Stefan Bondy of the New York Post on Thursday, Feb. 29, and the latter published a story with Frye’s comments following the Knicks’ 110-99 loss to the Warriors to cap a month to forget.

“You just have to be ready. If you’re committed to just playing through it, there are things that are just going to flat-out hurt. Flat out. It’s going to hurt. But that might not be every game,” Frye told Bondy about how he went about his injury back in the day. “For me, Julius, he’s going to have to adjust quickly.”

Frye said that as he sees Randle, he is “a very physical human being,” and someone who ”draws fouls by putting that ball in [the opponents’] chest and moving them out of the way.” That, according to Frye, means “When people chop down and you’re trying to go up, to rebuild those muscles that have been torn or damaged or whatever, it takes a while. And every time that thing stretches out or gets pulled or yanked, it does not feel good.”

The former player revealed that, in his case and on a 1-to-10 scale, “I’m talking 8 or 9 pain.” Frye, however, made it clear, “I wanted to play, and I didn’t want to get surgery on my shooting arm.”

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