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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Mitchell Robinson out for extended period after thumb surgery – The Denver Post

Now comes the hard part.

For the first time this season, the Knicks are faced with a significant injury to a starter, Mitchell Robinson, who underwent surgery Thursday to repair a fractured right thumb, the team announced.

Robinson sustained the injury in the first quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the Wizards, when his hand collided with the head of Bradley Beal.

Robinson, who played through the pain for a few minutes, will be re-evaluated in three weeks, the Knicks announced, although recovery from any surgery is typically longer. It’s unclear why Robinson underwent surgery for a fractured thumb and the Knicks didn’t disclose any other details.

Texts to Robinson’s agent, Thad Foucher, went unanswered.

The natural solution to Robinson’s absence is elevating Isaiah Hartenstein to starter and moving Jericho Sims to backup. Suddenly the decision to sign three centers in the summer makes sense.

However, Robinson has been irreplaceable this season. He emerged as not only the Knicks’ top rim protector, but also one of the league’s best rebounders and a persistent source of extra possessions.

Through 38 appearances — all starts — the 24-year-old averaged 8.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 7.2 points on 67% shooting. He is second in the NBA in total offensive rebounds with 165, behind only Steven Adams of the Grizzlies.

Robinson is also the team leader in net rating.

“Mitch is really the anchor for our defense. Him going out, it’s an adjustment for sure,” RJ Barrett said. “With everything, the rebounds, blocked shots, also just the factor people don’t want to go in the paint as much against him. You miss him big-time, all the offensive rebounds he gets. He’s a big part of our team.”

Hartenstein, meanwhile, has struggled to fill Robinson’s shoes while shooting a career-low 48%. Sims’ athletic rimrocking style is more in the mold of Robinson, but the 24-year-old is inexperienced as a 2021 second-round pick.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said Wednesday night that he’s unsure whether Sims or Hartenstein will start.

“I want to think and see more, think it through in terms of what’s best for both groups [starters and reserves], what will make it function best,” Thibodeau said. “Both guys have gone back and forth. We’ll get a chance to look at it deeper and make a decision.”

Robinson, who signed a four-year, $60 million contract in the summer, has now sustained three fractured bones in his five-season career. His fractured foot kept Robinson out for much of the 2020-21 season.

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