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Julius Randle to miss at least a few weeks, optimism Knicks star can avoid in-season surgery

Julius Randle's absence is expected to be at least a few weeks, following the shoulder dislocation he suffered on Saturday, but there's nothing conclusive yet about his exact timetable, according to SNY NBA Insider Ian Begley.

Per Begley, surgery hasn't been ruled out, but testing to date has led to some optimism it can be avoided.

Randle took a hard fall late in the Knicks’ 125-209 win over the Heat on Saturday afternoon, and then initial X-ray showed that he suffered a shoulder dislocation.

Here’s a look at what’s next for the Knicks...

RANDLE REPLACEMENT?

There are 10 days until the NBA trade deadline. So the Knicks have enough time to acquire a replacement for Randle.

Harrison Barnes, Miles Bridges and Bruce Brown are among the players available via trade who could replace Randle. The Knicks had been considering Brown prior to Randle’s injury. At that point, they had been looking for a ball-handler/scorer with the second unit. They also had been in touch with some teams on a backup big man in case Isaiah Hartenstein’s Achilles injury forced him to miss time.

In addition to those scenarios, some with the club had been in support of making no changes at the deadline, per league sources.

Maybe they now push harder for Brown – a player who already had significant support in the organization. Bridges and Barnes would also help the Knicks in the short term. It’s unknown if Sacramento would make Barnes available. They are obviously trying to win games. Bridges is attainable from Charlotte. But Bridges’ 2022 felony domestic violence arrest and subsequent plea of no contest would, presumably, factor heavily into any consideration given to Bridges.

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) dribbles while defended by Orlando Magic forward Chuma Okeke (3) during the first half at Madison Square Garden.

STANDING PAT?

In the wake of the injury, the Knicks had considered sticking with what is currently on the roster. In this scenario, they would presumably move Quentin Grimes or Josh Hart to the starting lineup and rely heavily on their eight healthy rotation players. OG Anunoby would move to the starting power forward spot.

Against bigger teams, the Knicks could also turn to Jericho Sims. Evan Fournier becomes a more viable option if the club needs extra shooting off the bench.

The Knicks are 12-2 since the Anunoby deal. Those wins, obviously, came with Randle in the lineup.

TRADE FACTORS

The challenge in making a trade, of course, is the cost for top players on the market. The Knicks would need to send out Fournier and draft compensation for a player like Brown. If they traded Fournier without attaching Grimes to the deal, it would be difficult to trade Grimes for equal value because of his $2.4 million salary.

The Knicks also would like to have enough tradeable contracts and other trade assets in place for the 2024 offseason and beyond. They would like to be prepared/well-stocked for when the next NBA star becomes available via trade.

They could make a significant trade at the deadline and still have enough draft capital left over to swing a bigger deal in the offseason. But a big trade in the offseason – or beyond – will factor into what the Knicks do at the deadline.

ESPN earlier reported that there was optimism about Randle returning in ‘weeks not months,’ suggesting that the All-Star forward can avoid in-season surgery