Newsday Knicks reporter Steve Popper says the team needs key players back from injury in the second half of the season. Credit: Howard Simmons

GREENBURGH — Maybe the brightest moment of optimism for Julius Randle came when he finished his media session, reached down and picked up a large box and showed no pain as he carried it out.

Anything else though was far less definitive. Randle acknowledged he is doing whatever he can to get back on the court but did not rule out the possibility of surgery ending his season.

Randle suffered a dislocated right shoulder Jan. 27 when he went headfirst over a Miami Heat defender on a drive to the basket. The team said it would be two to three weeks before he was re-evaluated, but his return remains a mystery.

Asked if there was consideration to having season-ending surgery, Randle said, “I mean, We’ll see. There’s still necessary steps. It’s a process to everything. I have to weigh out everything ultimately and decide from there. But right now I’m just focused on trying to avoid that, obviously, [and] get back on the court as soon as I can.”

A league source said that Randle’s workouts and rehabilitation have gone without setbacks and that the talk of surgery is more of a cautious approach by Randle and the Knicks. But even when asked whether, if he is able to make it back as he hopes, would surgery still be necessary after the season ends, Randle was not offering a definitive answer.

“We’ll see. I’ve heard many different opinions,” Randle said. “Both, so we’ll see. I like how I feel today as far as getting better, feeling stronger, progressing to where I need to be, as far as getting on the court. But I’m never somebody to say never, so ultimately I have to do what’s best for myself to have a long career, have longevity in this. The training staff has been great, getting me back healthy and feeling better, so it’s a process.”

Randle, like OG Anunoby and Mitchell Robinson, has not been able to return to practice yet. He is rehabbing as the team readies to resume the season on Thursday in Philadelphia. But Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said that Randle’s recovery has been on track throughout.

“We’re just taking it step by step,” Thibodeau said. “I think it’s premature to say anything until you have all the information. So right now he’s preparing to come back to play and he’s putting a lot into it. He looks good. He’s got a great spirit about him. He’s working out twice a day. So all things are good right now.”

“It’s funny that Thibs told you that,” Randle said of the two-a-day workouts. “I love it. He was blowing my phone up the whole time [during] All-Star, so he was doing two-a-days, too. I don’t know. I just kind of go on how I feel, to be honest, and I feel great. That’s as much as I can say. You guys know me. I’m going to push it as hard as I can — safely, cautiously, with the training team’s advice.”

For Randle, it has been a frustrating time. He started slowly this season as he was working his way back into shape after undergoing offseason ankle surgery — an injury he tried to play through in the postseason before having the procedure done when the Knicks fell out of the playoffs. He found his form and was having a stellar season — along with the team — and was voted to the All-Star Game by the Eastern Conference coaches but was unable to play.

So he has had to settle once again for rehabilitation work and watching film, trying to ready himself for a return to action that he can’t be sure will come.

“Being around my teammates helps,” Randle said. “Watching the game sucks. I don’t like being on the sideline. This is different for me. Just trying to be there, be supportive, as much as I can. Give advice when needed. Just being around the guys is definitely an energy booster for me for sure.

“But we’ve been diving into the film. I’m using this time as useful as I can as far as — I told you guys before the season when I was coming back from injury — I think that kind of prepared me for what I’m dealing with now. I’m making the most out of what I can. One of those things is being able to watch film with Coach on this season and see how I can get better and apply it when I’m really able to get out there on the court for sure.”

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