The Knicks will face the Raptors on Sunday afternoon minus at least three starters, with Mitchell Robinson the latest to enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Robinson joins Julius Randle, Nerlens Noel, Jericho Sims and Wayne Selden in the protocols. The Knicks also will be without Kemba Walker, who was a late scratch Friday in Oklahoma City with a sore left knee. Evan Fournier played Friday but is listed as questionable with a sore right ankle.
If Fournier sits, that would leave only RJ Barrett as a regular starter for the team, but even if Fournier can play, the Knicks are severely shorthanded. They will be without their top two centers and their two veteran point guards — when you throw in Derrick Rose, who is recovering from ankle surgery — and with Randle out, they are missing another key facilitator.
"It is what it is," coach Tom Thibodeau said after a 95-80 loss to the Thunder on Friday that dropped the Knicks to 17-19. "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."
The COVID-19 protocols have hit the entire NBA, but the Knicks have been struck hard in the past week, losing two starters in Randle and Robinson. They even have three assistant coaches — Johnnie Bryant, Kenny Payne and Dice Yoshimoto — sidelined and quarantined on the trip through Minnesota, Detroit, Oklahoma City and Toronto.
The Knicks gave Obi Toppin and Miles McBride their first career starts Friday in place of Randle and Walker. With Robinson sidelined, Taj Gibson will move into the starting center role. Kevin Knox is the only other power forward left on the roster.
While the Knicks are able to add another hardship exception 10-day contract, they are unable to clear a player into Toronto in time for the game.