Knicks 2-Way Stud OG Anunoby’s Return Imminent: Report

Knicks OG Anunoby

Getty OG Anunoby #8 of the New York Knicks reacts after scoring during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden.

New York Knicks‘ defensive stalwart OG Anunoby is getting closer to returning to the lineup.

Anunoby has been upgraded to day-to-day, according to The Athletic’s Fred Katz.

“OG Anunoby is going through contact drills and is playing five-on-five now, Tom Thibodeau said. Sounds like he’s getting closer. Thibodeau said he’s now day to day, but he hasn’t been cleared to fully play yet,” Katz reported on X, formerly Twitter, after the Knicks’ practice on Thursday, March 7.

Anunoby has missed the Knicks’ last 15 games due to a loose bone fragment in his right elbow. The Knicks are 7-8 without him.

Prior to his elbow surgery on February 8, Anunoby averaged 15.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks in his first 14 games in his Knicks tenure. They had the league-best defensive rating 104.1 points per 100 possessions during that stretch.

According to New York Daily News’ Kristian Winfield, Josh Hart told reporters that Anunoby shot the ball well in his first scrimmage since the injury.

“He looked good. [He] shot the ball well today,” Hart said via Daily News. “Those kinds of things — when you take that step, it’s always you kinda hold your breath the next day to see how they react to kind of really upping the workload.

So hopefully, tomorrow, there’s not that much soreness or anything like that and [he] can keep progressing. But he looked good. He looked like himself. Hopefully, we get him back soon.”

Meanwhile, Katz added that Jalen Brunson did most of Thursday’s practice, according to Thibodeau. But his playing status for Friday’s crucial game against the Orlando Magic remains unknown.

Knicks Have Flexibility to Add LeBron James

According to ESPN, New York has the flexibility to form a Big 3 of LeBron James, Brunson and Anunoby this summer.

The Knicks are better equipped than the Golden State Warriors, who pursued James at the trade deadline, should the Los Angeles Lakers superstar become available, the ESPN report said.

James could opt-in to his contract and then work out a trade, but Golden State would not be allowed to send out aggregate contracts if James’ $51.4 million salary pushed the Warriors over the second apron.

The Knicks, however, have the financial flexibility below both aprons to trade for James without losing Jalen Brunson and OG Anunoby.

New York has five players (Julius Randle, Josh Hart, Mitchell Robinson, Bojan Bogdanovic and Donte DiVincenzo) earning a salary between $11.5 and $30.3 million. They also have up to eight tradable first-rounders to include in a deal.

James fanned speculations about a potential move to the Knicks in the future in the days leading up to the February 8 trade deadline from cryptic X posts to flexing the Knicks towel in a postgame interview after a Lakers win in New York.

He even told New York reporters that playing for the Knicks once crossed his mind.

“During my free agency period in 2010, it was one of the teams that I looked at,” James told reporters on February 3. “So I’ve had that thought in my career.”

Julius Randle Progresses to Light Contact Drills

Anunoby appears to be on track to return sooner than Randle, who has yet to be cleared to do full-contact drills.

“Just the next step now that they’re doing more on the court,” Thibodeau said via Newsday on March 3. “[Randle] is working on the court. He’s doing stuff in the weight room. Stuff like that . . . He’s taken some light contact [with pads] but nothing with a player yet. So that’ll be the next step.”

Randle opted for rehab rather than a season-ending surgery on his dislocated shoulder.

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