Tom Thibodeau Shares Knicks Star Wing’s Progress

Knicks' OG Anunoby

Getty OG Anunoby #8 of the New York Knicks shoots the ball as Dillon Brooks #9 of the Houston Rockets defends.

While Julius Randle has been ruled out for the remainder of the season, OG Anunoby is inching closer to rejoining the New York Knicks for the stretch run.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau shared that Anunoby has been cleared for contact and has done 4-on-5 and 5-and-5 drills, per New York Daily News’ Kristian Winfield.

“He’s doing well. He’s getting closer. We’re optimistic, cautiously optimistic,” Thibodeau told reporters, per Hoopshype’s Michael Scotto, before the Knicks faced the Sacramento Kings on Thursday, April 4.

Anunoby will miss his 9th straight game but the Knicks are hoping to get him back before the playoffs. They will have six games left in their regular season schedule after Thursday’s game against the Kings.

The Knicks are a potent team with Anunoby.

They have a 15-2 record with Anunoby in the lineup since they acquired him from Toronto via blockbuster trade on December 30. They won their first five games since the trade and racked up an 11-2 record before Anunoby went down with the elbow injury.

He underwent a procedure to remove a loose bone fragment in his right elbow on February 8 and returned on March 12. But his return was brief and was cut short after the third game.

Anunoby experienced soreness in his surgically repaired elbow on March 14 in Portland. He endured the pain and discomfort and still played in Sacramento on March 16. Following that game, where he only shot 1 of 8 from the field, he flew back to New York for an MRI.

Fortunately for the Knicks, Anunoby’s MRI came back clean. They just needed to calm the inflammation.

Julius Randle Begrudgingly Decided to Get Surgery

The Knick’s hopes for a deep playoff run suffered a major blow when the team announced on April 4 that Randle would undergo a season-ending surgery.

Randle initially nixed surgery and opted to rehab his dislocated shoulder as he hoped to return this season. However, after two months of trying, he begrudgingly decided to be shut down.

“He had done everything possible to avoid surgery and return for the playoffs. However, the procedure became an increasing inevitability after recent visits to two specialists who warned of further injury and possible permanent damage to the shoulder if he returned to play before a surgical procedure, sources said,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

Randle was enjoying another All-Star season, averaging 24.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists when he suffered the injury in an awkward fall on January 27 against the Miami Heat.

The Knicks said he will be re-evaluated in September and expected to fully recover by the start of the next season.

Shaq Predicts Magic Sweep of Knicks in Playoffs

In the wake of the Knicks’ injury woes, Shaquille O’Neal is banking on an Orlando Magic sweep should the Knicks draw them in the first round of the playoffs.

“No, no [it’s not going to be the most fun series] because Orlando is going to sweep them,” O’Neal boldly claimed on “Inside the NBA” postgame show on April 2 following the Knicks’ 109-99 loss to the Miami Heat, their third straight loss.

“Orlando wins that series,” O’Neal repeatedly said when ex-Knicks guard Jamal Crawford tried to wager a friendly bet.

The Magic are on track to gain a homecourt edge with a half-game lead over the Knicks for the fourth seed and hold the series tie-breaker with less than two weeks left in the regular season.

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