NBA Hoops

Josh Hart — ‘Pleasantly surprised’ if OG Anunoby, Julius Randle return

Josh Hart -- 'Pleasantly surprised' if OG Anunoby, Julius Randle return

NEW YORK — After Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander broke the New York Knicks‘ hearts with a jumper with 1.8 seconds remaining to lift the Thunder to a 113-112 victory here at Madison Square Garden Sunday night, forward Josh Hart delivered another blow by indicating it is more likely than not both OG Anunoby and Julius Randle won’t return this season.

“I’m looking at it like this is the team we’re going to have,” Hart said when asked if there was anything to take away from New York’s performance with three starters — Anunoby (elbow), Randle (shoulder) and Mitchell Robinson (ankle) — unavailable. “I think that’s how we have to approach it, that those guys aren’t coming back and obviously we’ll be pleasantly surprised if they come back.

“I’m not in those medical conversations or anything like that, so I don’t know s— from s—. But we’ve got to approach every game and the end of this season that those guys aren’t coming back, and if they do, be pleasantly surprised.”

Both Anunoby and Randle initially left the lineup after the Knicks beat the Miami Heat on Jan. 27 here at “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” Anunoby was dealing with elbow discomfort that eventually required a procedure to be done on his right (shooting) elbow, while Randle separated his shoulder after Heat forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. took a charge against him.

Anunoby eventually returned to the lineup for three games before sitting out the past seven, including Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma City, while Randle — who continues to work out diligently but has yet to progress past doing “controlled contact” workouts — has not come back since then.

Before the game, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was asked about the status of Anunoby and Randle.

First Thibodeau was asked directly if there was any concern Anunoby could be unable to return this season.

“We just deal with reality,” Thibodeau said.

“You deal with it day-to-day. When he’s strong enough, he gets out there.”

Then, after saying both Anunoby and Randle were more or less in the same place in their recovery processes, he addressed Randle’s ongoing rehab situation, which has seemingly plateaued for the past several weeks. It’s an injury Randle didn’t have surgery on and is notoriously tricky to deal with — particularly for a player who plays with as physical of a style as Randle does.

“Just keep doing what he’s doing, day-to-day,” Thibodeau said of Randle’s rehab process. “You never…

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