February 24, 2024

Knicks’ OG Anunoby has surgery to remove loose bone fragment from right elbow


New York Knicks wing OG Anunoby has undergone surgery on his elbow, the team announced Thursday. Doctors will re-evaluate him in three weeks.

The operation brings a new context to New York’s latest transaction, which brings guard Alec Burks and forward Bojan Bogdanović from the Detroit Pistons for Quentin Grimes, Evan Fournier, Ryan Arcidiacono, Malachi Flynn and a couple of second-round picks. The two sides agreed to the deal only a few hours before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. The announcement of Anunoby’s surgery followed.

The Knicks already have injuries aplenty up and down the roster. Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson are out for the foreseeable future with shoulder and ankle ailments, respectively. Jalen Brunson sprained his ankle earlier this week and will miss Thursday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said before the Mavs game that Brunson is day to day. Josh Hart has been banged up and was holding his knee throughout the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s win, though the Knicks have not listed him on the injury report. And then there’s Anunoby, who hasn’t played since Jan. 27 — and now, it’s clear why.

The initial strategy with Anunoby’s injury was to see if rest and rehab would help, but doctors eventually decided that surgery would be the best route to get him at his healthiest during the most important part of the season. The Knicks are optimistic that Anunoby can return to basketball activities in three weeks, according to a league source with knowledge of the injury. They expect the elbow to be back at 100 percent for the stretch run of the season and the playoffs, as well.

The Knicks originally called Anunoby’s injury “elbow inflammation,” saying for the first week and a half he was out that he was “day to day.” On Wednesday, they reclassified it on the official injury report, listing Anunoby as out with “bone spur irritation” in his right elbow.

Two hours after the trade deadline passed (and two hours before tipoff against the Mavericks), they announced that Anunoby had undergone surgery. Thibodeau told reporters that he did not know when the surgery occurred, clarifying he only knew it did not happen last week.

In the meantime, Anunoby’s absence is a blow to a group that’s been on fire ever since acquiring him. The Knicks are 16-3 since the defensive stalwart played his first game with them — and they are allowing the fewest points per possession in the NBA over that time with his presence being a reason why.

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They have shot up the standings in the process, rising to a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference heading into Thursday’s action. The Knicks are now a team with aspirations beyond just the regular season.

For the past five games, Hart and Precious Achiuwa have started in Anunoby’s and Randle’s places. It’s unclear if that trend will continue with Bogdanović entering the fray.

Until the returns of their starting forwards, the Knicks can roll with a rotation that includes Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, Hart, Bogdanović, Achiuwa, Isaiah Hartenstein, Burks, Miles McBride and Jericho Sims — though the two former Pistons are not available Thursday night. Once Anunoby and Randle return and presumably two aforementioned players exit the rotation, the Knicks will boast impressive depth down the roster.

Three weeks from the announcement of the surgery is Feb. 29, which means Anunoby will miss at least nine more games in addition to the five he’s already been out.

Anunoby has averaged 15.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14 games played since joining the Knicks and has shot 52 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range over that stretch.

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(Photo of OG Anunoby: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)





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