Should Knicks fans be worried Julius Randle hasn't been cleared for contact?

Julius Randle dislocated his shoulder on Jan. 27.

New York Knicks, Julius Randle
New York Knicks, Julius Randle / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Time is ticking for the New York Knicks. On April 14, the team will suit up for its last regular-season game. It should be exciting that the regular-season grind is coming to a close, paving the way for the playoffs to start, but the Knicks are still without three key players.

Mitchell Robinson underwent ankle surgery in December, Julius Randle dislocated his shoulder in late January, and OG Anunoby hurt his elbow (which eventually required surgery) in late January. That trio is expected to be back before the end of the season, but fans are starting to worry about when that'll be.

Anunoby's the closest to returning. Tom Thibodeau said he hopes the wing will be cleared to play this week. On Monday, Shams Charania reported that Anunoby is "close" to returning and will be back sometime in the next week. The timetables for Randle and Robinson aren't so clear, although they will travel with the Knicks on their upcoming four-game road trip out West.

Randle still needs to be cleared for contact, which is the next big hurdle he must pass. Once he is, that will mean he's close to returning. When could that be?

Knicks' Julius Randle still not cleared for contact after dislocating his shoulder

On Sunday, SNY's Ian Begley said that Randle has been doing everything except taking contact and that there's "some concern" that he hasn't been cleared for contact yet because he's been in this current recovery stage for a while.

Based on Randle's progress, it seems as if he could be cleared for contact soon. It's a good sign that he's been able to work out and avoid surgery. However, it is concerning that his status is still in limbo, with about five weeks left until the start of the playoffs. The hope should be for him to return before then so he can get back up to speed before being thrown into the postseason fire.

Several Knicks beat writers have said that if it were up to Randle, he would've been cleared to play yesterday. Even his oldest son, Kyden, doesn't understand why his father can't play yet. Randle's one of the toughest players in the league, but a dislocated shoulder is tricky. You don't want him to rush back and injure his shoulder even more. His long-term health takes priority over New York's playoff push.

Randle may be cleared for contact over the next week or so. After that, the medical staff will have to clear him to play, which is currently what Anunoby is waiting for. Don't give up hope yet!

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