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OG Anunoby ‘sure’ he will be back in Knicks’ lineup before playoffs

The Knicks don’t often make injured players available to the media until they are ready to return to action, but OG Anunoby’s first public comments since he left the rotation with an elbow injury that required surgery should not be construed as him suiting up imminently after the All-Star break.

Though the two-way forward has yet to be cleared to practice, Anunoby said he’s “progressing every day” to this point in his rehabilitation.

And he “for sure” expects to be back on the court with the Knicks before the end of the regular season and in time for the playoffs.

OG Anunoby told the media Tuesday that he expects to be back in the Knicks’ lineup before the playoffs. Angus Mordant for the NY Post

“Yeah, it definitely sucks, but just trying to get better as fast as possible and then be ready for the rest of the season,” Anunoby said Tuesday in his first public comments since the injury. “Just following the doctors orders, following the medical staff, just progressing day by day.

“But I’m feeling better and better, so yeah, I want to be back as soon as possible, for sure.”

Anunoby gave the Knicks a massive boost upon joining the lineup following a late-December trade from the Raptors, resulting in a 12-2 record in the 14 games he played through his most-recent appearance in a Jan. 27 victory over the Heat.

All-Star forward Julius Randle suffered a dislocated right shoulder in that same game, and he also hasn’t been cleared to resume practicing with the team.

Several others also missed time, as the Knicks limped into the All-Star break by losing five of six following a 15-2 stretch.

OG Anunoby goes up for a dunk during a Knicks game earlier this season. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“Oh yeah, it’s unlucky timing for the whole team. But next man up,” Anunoby said. “Everyone’s been stepping up. Jericho [Sims], Precious [Achiuwa] have been really good. Bogie [Bojan Bogdanovic] and Alec [Burks] coming in [via deadline trade with the Pistons].

“We have a great team. … I’m definitely excited to get back. I think the whole team is excited to play together again and go on another run.”

The Knicks, who resume play Thursday in Philadelphia, announced on Feb. 8 that Anunoby had undergone surgery to remove a bone fragment in his right elbow and he would be reevaluated in three weeks.

“Yeah, we tried other options. We tried rest. We tried treatment stuff. We tried strengthening it,” Anunoby said. “But I think everyone agreed this would be the best option to be 100 percent moving forward.”

The London native added the injury “had been bothering me” in January, but he “didn’t know exactly when it started.” He was removed from the lineup after “it swelled up” ahead of the Knicks’ victory in Charlotte on Jan. 29.

Knicks player OG Anunoby speaks to the media. Angus Mordant

Asked if he had been dealing with the injury earlier this season or previously with the Raptors, Anunoby replied, “No, earlier in my career, no. Elbow was sore, but I didn’t think anything of it. I never thought anything of it, and then it just started swelling up, my elbow. I don’t know exactly what happened or what led to it feeling like it did in Charlotte.”

Anunoby added he has “no target date” to return to action, but coach Tom Thibodeau said the forward’s progress has included cardio work and doing “left-handed stuff” off the court.

“He hasn’t been cleared to do anything on the court yet. But overall he’s doing well,” Thibodeau said. “Just let him go day by day, and then when he’s ready, he’s ready.

“He can condition, that sort of thing. And so he’s probably getting pretty close to whatever the next step is. And that’s probably going to be the shooting component. And then once he gets to that phase, then it’s when he’s ready.”


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