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Knicks' OG Anunoby out at least three weeks following right elbow surgery

NBA: Denver Nuggets at New York Knicks
NBA: Denver Nuggets at New York Knicks

This is why the Knicks were making moves to add players who could step in immediately at the trade deadline.

OG Anunoby will be out at least three weeks, and likely longer, following elbow surgery to deal clean up a bone fragment issue, the team announced on Thursday.

Anunoby had missed the last five Knicks games hoping rest would solve the issue. When things didn't improve much, the decision was made to go with surgery, which will have him back for the stretch run and the playoffs, Adrian Wojnarowski reports at ESPN.

Even with rim protector Mitchell Robinson sidelined the Knicks' defense noticeably improved after the team traded for Anunoby from Toronto. For the 11 games between Robinson being sidelined with a stress fracture in his ankle and the Anunoby trade, New York had a bottom-10 defense in the league. Once Anunoby arrived, the Knicks allowed less than a point per possession when he was in the game (99.5 defensive rating, via Cleaning the Glass) and had the best defense in the league until Anunoby was sidelined with the elbow issue.

The Knicks are currently without Julius Randle (dislocated shoulder), Robinson and Anunoby for the next several weeks (fortunately for them, one of those weeks there are no games thanks to the All-Star break). All three are expected back for the playoffs. In the short term, just-acquired Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks will be asked to take on more in the rotations, as will Jalen Brunson.

At 33-18 the Knicks sit tied for third in the East with the Bucks, just a game behind the Cavaliers for the No. 2 seed. New York's goal for the rest of the season is to climb into one of those top three spots, helping them avoid Boston until the Eastern Conference Finals.