New York Knicks forward Julius Randle will miss the last five games of the regular season. The team announced Thursday that he'll be reevaluated in two weeks after spraining his left ankle in Wednesday's game against the Miami Heat.
This timeline means that Randle could potentially be back at the beginning of the playoffs, which begin on April 15. (The regular season ends on April 9, and the play-in runs from April 11 to April 14.)
Randle left the team's 101-92 victory against Miami in the second quarter and did not return. With just under three minutes to play in the frame, he jumped for a rebound off a missed 3-pointer by Immanuel Quickley, landed on Bam Adebayo's foot and rolled his ankle severely.
Julius Randle goes down after rolling his ankle, the MSG crowd gives him MVP chants as he limps to the line to shoot his FTs before leaving to the locker room pic.twitter.com/1ISmjEtCNj— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) March 30, 2023
Randle remained in the game to shoot his free throws, making one out of two, then the Knicks took a foul so he could check out. Though he left the court under his own power, he was clearly limping:
Thanks to @Colin12P who dutifully grabbed this off MSG since we can’t see the tunnel here in the arena - but it did not look good. pic.twitter.com/heTNihS0JP— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) March 30, 2023
Randle has been one of the most durable players in the league this season. Until now he has appeared in all 77 of the Knicks' games and averaged 35.5 minutes, which is the most on the team and good for 17th in the league.
New York's remaining schedule includes games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers (twice) and New Orleans Pelicans. It is 44-33, and while it is not officially locked into the fifth spot in the East, that's probably where it will finish. The Knicks are a full four games behind the fourth-place Cavaliers (48-29), and they're 2.5 games behind the sixth-place Brooklyn Nets (41-35).
There is no good time to lose a star player like Randle, who is averaging a career-high 25.1 points on 58.1 percent true shooting this season, plus 10 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Some times are worse than others, though, and it's unclear just how bad this is. If Randle recovers from this sprain just in time for the playoffs and looks like himself immediately, then this is no big deal. If he doesn't, though, then the immense challenge New York will face in the first round will be even tougher than previously imagined.