The New York Knicks are currently navigating a challenging and crucial period of the regular season that could very well shape their short-term future and their aspirations throughout the upcoming postseason.
No need to mention, obviously, that this whole thing is related to the injury bug that has been biting seemingly all Bockers from mid-December on, starting with Mitchell Robinson and ending (hopefully) with Jalen Brunson going down last Tuesday in the matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Turns out things aren’t getting any, or at least not much, better.
On Wednesday, the Knicks ruled out OG Anunoby for Thursday’s game against the visiting Dallas Mavericks, finally revealing the particular injury suffered by the freshest wing in New York as they went from reporting “elbow inflammation” to confirming OG is suffering a “bone spur irritation,” per Fred Katz of The Athletic.
Knicks have classified Anunoby as “day to day” but this will now be the sixth consecutive game he’s missed. He will go at least 14 days between playing games. Yesterday, Tom Thibodeau fielded 8 questions about Anunoby’s injury/status but did not provide further clarity. https://t.co/9iIdgFAI4p— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) February 7, 2024
Now, if you are like me (no injury expert), you might be wondering what does that mean. Well, it means that at some point down the road, similarly to what will most probably happen with Julius Randle, Anunoby will need to go under the knife. Uh, oh.
Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes (a site specializing in sports injuries) provided an extraordinary breakdown of OG’s issue on Wednesday following the announcement of his particular injury.
“A bone spur is often the result of a repetitive motion that places an undue stress somewhere on the body,” Stotts started explaining. “Bone spurs in the elbow are relatively common in professional baseball (because of repetitive pitching motions). While bone spurs in the elbow are less common in the NBA, the repetitive motion of shooting a basketball can lead to the development of [bone spurs].”
All good. Or is it?
“Once the bone spur is present, conservative treatment can be utilized to address the accompanying symptoms,” wrote Stotts. “Athletes can play with the problem but often require routine maintenance and may report functional limitation.”
That might be problematic, doesn’t it? “Removing the problematic osteophyte via surgery is often utilized as the best long-term course of treatment. In the NBA, a majority of elbow debridements are carried out in the offseason to allow the time lost to be minimized.”
Welp, yes, yes it is. And there you have the potentially bad surgery news. Nothing set in stone, of course, but there is the possibility of OG undergoing surgery at some point later this year, most probably in the summer.
“Anunoby does not have a history of elbow problems and a return in the near future seems plausible,” Stotts revealed. “It is likely New York uses the next few days and the impending All-Star break to continue their current course of treatment.
“Surgery could be an option at some point down the road but it sounds like it is not currently being considered.”
Knicks reporters asked Tom Thibodeau eight questions about OG Anunoby's vague injury during pregame availability.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) February 6, 2024
Below are his eight answers.
Anunoby will miss his fifth straight game tonight because of "elbow inflammation," Knicks say. Thibodeau says he's still day to day. pic.twitter.com/YkXjNkQUwJ
All of that said, however, Stotts digged into the archives and found something promising when it comes to OG’s outlook whether that includes surgery or not.
“Multiple players, including Carmelo Anthony, Wesley Matthews, and Paul Pierce, have undergone elbow debridements to remove bone spurs or loose bodies in their elbow. These surgeries were all performed in the offseason. In-season surgeries are less common though Joe Johnson managed to return in 19 days after undergoing an elbow debridement in the 2010-2011 season,” he shared. “Former Knick Bill Walker also underwent an elbow debridement mid-season but his recovery was longer as he missed 23 games (53 days).”
Adding wood to this fire, the Knicks have also added Brunson to their latest injury report ahead of the matchup against Dallas with the point guard questionable to play on Thursday with an ankle sprain.
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Post, “a source said that Brunson may indeed miss the game but dodged the bullet of a serious injury.”
Josh Hart, who also suffered an injury (knee) on Tuesday, has not hit the injury report at the time of this writing. He was simply “dealing with knee pain,” per Bondy.
Jericho Sims, who missed Tuesday with an illness, was listed as questionable once more for the game against the Mavs on Thursday, so it feels like he’ll be a game-time decision made by the Knicks as long as he is healthy enough to make it to MSG in time for the pregame shootaround.
In addition to Anunoby and Brunson, the Knicks won’t have Quentin Grimes available for the fourth consecutive matchup after he missed the prior three with a sprained knee. Grimes is believed to be out of any trade package being discussed by the Knicks, so his absence is surely related to that injury and not just because of any sort of negotiations going on between New York and any of the other franchises across the Association, as some might have believed.
Regarding Mitchell Robinson, Tom Thibodeau provided a promising update before last Tuesday’s game against Memphis saying Mitch “is doing better and better and [he’s] progressing,” also revealing that “probably right after the All-Star break, he’ll start to do activities on the court.”
There has been no news to report on Julius Randle’s front, with the forward expected to be re-evaluated at some point during the All-Star break aiming at a return later during the regular season and ahead of the playoffs.