Alec Burks of the Knicks drives to the basket in front of...

Alec Burks of the Knicks drives to the basket in front of Blake Griffin of the Pistons in the first half of an NBA game at Little Caesars Arena on Dec. 13 in Detroit. Credit: Getty Images/Dave Reginek

One of Tom Thibodeau’s commandments in his first months as Knicks coach has been that the team will need everyone to get through this season, a campaign started in a pandemic and rushed through an abbreviated offseason and training camp. And already that is proving true.

The Knicks started their four-game road trip with Alec Burks, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Omari Spellman and Austin Rivers all sidelined with an assortment of injuries.

"Usually the start of the season you look at the entire month as training camp," Thibodeau said. "So it’s shortened. Coming in you don’t know. There’s been such a long layoff. Even if you’re diligent and staying in condition it's a lot different than playing where you have the contact and that physicality. So I think you have to go through an adjustment period there.

"So in some ways it doesn’t surprise me. The guys that stayed in great shape I think do have an advantage. The guys that were in good shape and not great shape they’re at a disadvantage right now."

The player who has been absent more than any is Rivers, who suffered a groin injury in the initial training camp practice and has been easing his way back, missing the entire preseason and all of the games so far.

"There’s a progression to coming back," Thibodeau said. "He was heavy on the conditioning obviously without any contact. Then it goes to one-on-one and sort of controlled movements. Then you progress to the two-on-two and then three-on-three. Basically we’re at the three-on-three phase right now and so it’s day to day in terms of how he feels the next day whether we go to the next step. Obviously there’s some more steps to take. He has to play five-on-five. Then he has to practice with the team. So he’s still a couple of steps away."


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