Update, Jan. 4 — Randle has cleared health and safety protocols on Tuesday ahead of the Knicks’ game vs. the Indiana Pacers. Chances are Randle will need a bit of conditioning before returning to the lineup. The Knicks have a back-to-back set against the Boston Celtics starting on Thursday, when we could see Randle come back.
New York Knicks PF Julius Randle has been placed into the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced on Thursday. The Knicks are coming off a win over the Detroit Pistons on the road on Wednesday night. The Pistons have had players in COVID protocols recently, so there’s a chance Randle was a close contact to someone. If Randle didn’t test positive, there’s a chance he can return soon. If not, he’ll have to isolate for at least six days before returning to basketball activities.
If that six-day timeline stands true, Randle should miss at least the next three games for the Knicks, who have won three in a row. Right now, Nerlens Noel and Danuel House are the two Knicks who aren’t active. Evan Fournier was a late scratch on Wednesday night due to an ankle injury. New York was getting close to full-strength before this Randle news.
With Randle out, we should see the Knicks opt for smaller lineups with RJ Barrett and/or Alec Burks at forward. Obi Toppin gets the biggest boost with Randle sidelined. We could see the second-year lottery pick land in the starting lineup. Mitchell Robinson is also a candidate for more minutes as the only true big behind Noel and Randle. Look for more Kemba Walker and Immanuel Quickley on offense eating up those extra touches and looks.