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Mitchell Robinson injury update: Knicks center expected to return Wednesday vs. Raptors, per report

New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, out since Dec. 8 with an ankle injury that required surgery, is expected to play Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He is officially questionable on the team’s injury report after missing nearly four months. His return would be the first step towards a healthy postseason roster for a New York team that has spent the better part of this season just trying to survive the barrage of injuries it has been hit with.

Robinson was the first significant player to go down for the Knicks, and he was having arguably the best season of his career when he got hurt. His stellar rim-protection powered the Knicks defensively early in the season, but where he truly shines is as an offensive rebounder. Robinson leads the NBA this season with 5.3 of them per game. No team emphasizes offensive rebounding like the Knicks, as Tom Thibodeau’s team currently leads the league in offensive rebounding rate, and now it looks like they’ll get their best rebounder back on the floor soon.

That news is something of a surprise. After Robinson initially got hurt, the Knicks applied for a disabled player exception from the NBA that would have given them more flexibility to add a replacement. Those exceptions are granted only when a player is expected to miss the rest of a season. The NBA denied the Knicks, and his recovery will seemingly have him back on the floor weeks before the postseason even begins.

“Mitchell is moving quite well,” Thibodeau said ahead of Monday’s win over the Detroit Pistons. “He’s cleared for contact and all that. He’s going through practices and so just needs a little more time. But he’s doing really well overall.”

Isaiah Hartenstein has filled in capably for Robinson since he got hurt, but his return is still welcome as Hartenstein has also been playing on a minutes restriction due to an Achilles injury. With both active, the Knicks can ensure that neither needs to carry too heavy a load.

Now, the focus for the Knicks turns to their two injured forwards. Julius Randle is still recovering from a shoulder injury, while OG Anunoby, who briefly returned from the elbow injury that kept him out in February, is also sidelined. There is not an exact timeline yet known for either of their returns, though Thibodeau acknowledged Monday that he expected Robinson to be the first of the trio to return.

The Knicks haven’t had all three of Robinson, Randle and Anunoby on the floor together at the same time even once this season. If they expect to make any sort of run this postseason, all three will be critical. Two of them are working under uncertain timelines, but for now, at least, it looks like the Knicks will have their starting center back for the final stretch of the regular season.

Looking for more NBA coverage? John Gonzalez, Bill Reiter, Ashley Nicole Moss and special guests dive deep into the league’s biggest storylines daily on the Beyond the Arc podcast.

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