Injured center Mitchell Robinson can’t even guess when he’ll return to the Knicks. He realizes he has to stay patient.
In his first comments since breaking his right hand during a game Feb. 12 at Washington, Robinson sounded like he’s at least coming along after surgery last week to repair the fracture.
The Knicks have given no timetable for his return other than to say he will be reevaluated after the All-Star break, around March 10.
“I feel great, I feel amazing,” Robinson said Saturday via Zoom. “Basically what I’m doing now is doing the bike, running here and there. I’m watching team practices to keep updated just in case if something is added. So I’m focused on that and staying in shape.’’
The question is whether coach Tom Thibodeau will tinker in filling the Robinson vacuum. Mostly, in the first two games without Robinson, Thibodeau has used Nerlens Noel as the starting center and Taj Gibson as backup.
According to sources, Thibodeau has spent three days of practice trying to mix and match. One thing he has looked into is playing more small-ball, moving Julius Randle to center and using rookie Obi Toppin at power forward.
Thibodeau is also debating whether to return Kevin Knox to the rotation at power forward, using him with Randle at center. Knox was taken out of the rotation on Jan. 31 against the Clippers — 10 games ago. Knox, the Knicks’ 2018 lottery pick, has made three garbage-time cameos in that span, playing a total of nine minutes.
The Knicks were a disaster offensively in the second half Wednesday at Orlando, missing 15 straight shots and amassing just 33 points following halftime in the 107-89 loss. Knox’s 3-point shooting could come in handy, as he was hitting them at a career-best 37.9 percent clip.
Meanwhile, the Knicks’ 2020 lottery pick, Toppin, is struggling from deep (29.7 percent) and looked tentative while playing just 11 minutes against the Magic.
Sources said the Knicks want to stand pat for now at center. In fact, the Knicks let young Westchester Knicks center Justin Patton, the No. 16 pick of the 2017 draft, sign a two-way deal with the Rockets on Friday. Patton, 23, played under Thibodeau in Minnesota.
Robinson, wearing a taped brace, won’t put a date on his return, but late March seems reasonable.
“I’m really waiting,” Robinson said. “I’m leaving it up to them. I’ll wait patiently. I’ll let the doctors handle that and trainers show specialize in that area. I’ll continue to stay in shape.’’