The New York Knicks will not have the man at the center of their defense for at least a month. According to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, big man Mitchell Robinson is slated to miss the next 4-6 weeks after he broke his hand against the Washington Wizards earlier this week.
Robinson, who had started all 27 games the Knicks played up to that point, appeared to suffer the injury while going up to contest a shot by Washington’s Rui Hachimura, as he was seen holding his hand following the play.
This looks like the play where Mitchell Robinson fractured his right hand. Julius Randle said after the game the Knicks staff showed him video of it and that Robinson's hand hit his elbow. Robinson is holding his hand after going up to contest the shot. https://t.co/5dEqbM5j0P pic.twitter.com/zRIPYVMjFC
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) February 13, 2021
The specific injury is a fracture of the fourth metacarpal, and Robinson will undergo surgery next week to get it all sorted out. So far this season, Robinson is averaging 8.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.2 steals in 28.8 minutes per game for New York, and while replacing his defensive presence will be difficult, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau went through some of the ways he might try to fill that hole at the heart of his defense.
Mitchell Robinson’s injury could open up playing time for Kevin Knox in some games where Thibs will go small-ball with Randle at 5 & Knox at 4. But it will be Nerlens & Taj who will get the most bump in playing time. pic.twitter.com/aqI1etBr3g
— alder almo (@alderalmo) February 13, 2021
“We can play smaller,” Thibodeau said after the game against the Wizards, before bringing up some of the players who might be able to slide in. He then brought up some specific guys, noting that he has a few tricks up his sleeve beyond the most logical replacements in guys like Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson.
“I like the way Obi [Toppin] is coming on,” Thibodeau said. “He’s given us good minutes, so we have that option. We can downsize and we can play Kevin [Knox] at the four, play Julius [Randle] at 5.
“I like the versatility of our team,” Thibodeau continued. “But any time you lose a player of Mitch’s caliber, we have to make sure we’re playing hard. You don’t replace a guy like that individually, we have to do it collectively, and everyone’s gonna have to step up.”