Knicks' Mitchell Robinson, NBA's top offensive rebounder, out at least 2 months for ankle surgery

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NEW YORK (AP) — Mitchell Robinson will have left ankle surgery this week, leaving the New York Knicks without their starting center and the NBA's top offensive rebounder for at least two months.

Robinson was hurt Friday in a loss to Boston and the Knicks announced Monday that he would undergo the procedure this week. The team said he would be evaluated in eight to 10 weeks.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said an X-ray performed in Boston didn't show a significant injury, but the Knicks wanted to do additional testing that revealed Robinson had a stress fracture.

“Tough news for him because he’s worked extremely hard and has played really, really well,” Thibodeau said before the Knicks' game against Toronto. “But he’s tough-minded and he’ll bounce back.”

Robinson’s rebounding and shot blocking have helped fuel the Knicks’ defense and his ability to chase down missed shots has given them extra possessions on offense. The 7-footer leads the league with 112 offensive rebounds (5.3 per game).

For the season, Robinson is averaging 6.2 points and 10.3 rebounds. He is shooting 59%, having set the NBA record in 2019-20 when he hit 74.2% of his shots to break Wilt Chamberlain's mark of 72.7% in 1972-73.

Thibodeau said the Knicks are confident in the duo of Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims. Hartenstein, Robinson's backup, grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds in the loss in Boston and provides a different look with his ability to play away from the basket on offense. Sims, who competed in last year's All-Star Slam Dunk Contest, more resembles Robinson with his athleticism.

“It’s hard to replace a player like Mitch individually. Very hard to do. But collectively we can,” Thibodeau said. “We’re capable of playing great team defense, we’ve been an outstanding rebounding team the entire year, so we just have to do it more as a group and that’s going to be our challenge.”

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA