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The New York Knicks have suffered a significant setback to their hopes of making it to the postseason, as three-time All-Star Julius Randle will miss the rest of the season due to a dislocated right shoulder that requires surgery. Randle, who initially injured his shoulder in January, had been trying to avoid surgery but was advised by doctors that playing further this season could lead to more severe and permanent issues. He is expected to be ready for the start of the 2024-25 season after undergoing the procedure and will be reassessed in September.

Randle’s absence is a major blow to the Knicks, who had a strong record of 12-2 when both Randle and small forward OG Anunoby were in the lineup, with the best defensive rating in the league during those games. Despite not being known as a great defender, Randle had been effective in implementing head coach Tom Thibodeau’s defensive system. Anunoby is also sidelined indefinitely after a setback in his recovery from elbow surgery, further complicating the team’s postseason prospects.

This season will mark the second consecutive year that Randle has suffered a significant late-season injury, following an ankle injury that ended his 2022-23 campaign. In his tenth NBA season, Randle has put up impressive numbers, averaging 24 points, 9.2 rebounds, five assists, and 0.5 steals per game. The Knicks, currently the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 44-31 record, have had to make adjustments to their lineup in Randle and Anunoby’s absence, starting wings Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo alongside Isaiah Hartenstein at center.

Coach Thibodeau has opted for a smaller lineup that prioritizes passing and shooting, along with defensive versatility, over height, even though taller bench options are available for matchups against taller teams like the Boston Celtics. The Knicks will face a tough challenge in the upcoming postseason without their second-best player, especially as they are on a three-game losing streak and would match up against the fourth-seeded Orlando Magic if the playoffs started today. It remains to be seen how they will fare without Randle against tough competition in the Eastern Conference.

In conclusion, the New York Knicks’ playoff hopes have taken a hit with Julius Randle’s season-ending injury necessitating shoulder surgery. His absence, along with the uncertainty surrounding OG Anunoby’s return, leaves the team in a tough spot as they look to secure a spot in the postseason. With a makeshift lineup in place, coach Tom Thibodeau will have to navigate the challenges of the remaining games and potential playoff matchups without one of his key players. The Knicks will need to rely on their depth and resilience to overcome this setback and compete at a high level in the competitive Eastern Conference.

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