The Knicks will face the Raptors minus at least three starters Sunday afternoon, with Mitchell Robinson most recently entering the NBA’s health and safety records.
Robinson joins Julius Randle, Nerlen’s Noel, Jericho Sims and Wayne Selden in minutes, and the Knicks will also be without Kemba Walker, who was a late itch Friday in Oklahoma City with a sore left knee. Evan Fournier played Friday, but is listed as doubtful with a sore right ankle.
If Fournier sits, it would only leave RJ Barrett as a solid starter for the team, but even though Fournier can play, the team is severely shorthanded. They will be without their two best centers and their two veteran point guards when you throw Derrick Rose in, who is recovering from ankle surgery.
“That’s what it is,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said after Friday’s loss to the Thunder. “There’s nothing you can do other than follow the guidelines. You want everyone to be healthy. You want them to be safe. That’s your first concern. Forget the basketball part of it, take care of yourself. it self.”
The COVID-19 protocols have hit the entire NBA, but the Knicks have been hit hard in the past week and have lost two starters in Randle and Robinson. And they even have three assistant coaches – Johnnie Bryant, Kenny Payne and Dice Yoshimoto – on the sidelines and in quarantine on the trip through Minnesota, Detroit and Oklahoma City.
The Knicks gave Obi Toppin and Miles McBride their first career start on Friday instead of Randle and Walker. With Robinson on the sidelines, Taj Gibson will move into the starting center role, and Kevin Knox is the only power forward left on the list. While the Knicks are able to add another 10-day contract, they are unable to clear a player into Toronto in time for the match.