There was a Julius Randle sighting Sunday morning on the Knicks’ bench. And even if it was just Randle sitting with his wife and two sons, there was a bit of news: He was without the protective boot that he wore when he last was with the team before its recent two-game road trip.
“Yeah, just the next step, following the protocol progression,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So making good, steady progress.”
When Randle suffered a sprained left ankle March 29 against Miami, the team announced the following day that he would be re-evaluated in two weeks. With Game 1 of the first-round playoff series against Cleveland coming up on Saturday, there is hope that he will be back in the lineup for the postseason after sitting out the final five regular-season games.
Thibodeau said Randle has been on the court. “He’s shooting, but no contact or anything like that,” he said. “But he’s doing well overall.”
Jalen Brunson sat out the final three games of the regular season with the Knicks set in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, but Thibodeau said that was more precautionary than the sprained right hand making him unable to play.
“Just more precautionary, just because of the hand being hit before,” he said. “So he’s doing great, feels good.”
Isaiah Hartenstein completed his first season with the Knicks by playing in all 82 games — the first Knicks player to accomplish that since Justin Holiday in the 2016-17 season. RJ Barrett played all 72 games in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season.
“If you look back — especially starting the season — we started off with some injuries and stuff like that,” Hartenstein said. “So to be able to keep building, keep getting healthy, and then finish the season off with all 82, I think it’s special and you got to give a lot of credit to the training staff and the strength coaches.”
The Knicks signed Isaiah Roby, who was released last month by San Antonio, to a contract for the final game of the season with a non-guaranteed deal for next season. According to a league source, Roby will be paid $400,000, using up the remainder of the Knicks’ salary-cap space. He is not eligible for the postseason.