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James Dolan adds mystery to Mitchell Robinson’s return timeline

BOSTON — The Knicks say nothing has changed in Mitchell Robinson’s prognosis to return from thumb surgery despite rare public quotes concerning the team made Thursday by owner James Dolan.

“The Knicks are doing well. They’re not at the top of the league, but they’re not at the bottom. They’re in a playoff position now,” Dolan said during a televised Fox 5 interview that mostly was about the company’s controversial facial-recognition technology policies at Madison Square Garden and other venues. “We just lost a player, Mitchell Robinson, for four weeks and he was important to us.

“So we have to make it through the next four weeks.”

Four additional weeks would put Robinson out through the All-Star break next month, but the only official timeline provided by the Knicks has been that their starting center would be reevaluated three weeks after his Jan. 19 surgery. A team spokesman said before Thursday’s game against the Celtics that “Nothing changed in our update.”

“I didn’t see what [Dolan] said. But whatever the medical people are saying, I think they were reexamining him after a couple of [more] weeks and we’ll go from there,” Tom Thibodeau said before the Knicks’ 120-117 overtime win. “The good thing is he’s able to do conditioning and stuff. It’s his hand. So he’s already been in, working out and stuff like that. So when they clear him, they clear him.

Knicks owners James Dolans statement that Mitchell Robinson will return from his thumb injury in four weeks is different from the team's prognosis for his return.
Knicks owner James Dolan’s statement that Mitchell Robinson will return from his thumb injury in four weeks is different from the team’s prognosis for when he will return.
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“They said in two weeks he’ll be examined and then we’ll go from there. So whatever it is, it is.”

The Knicks began the day in the No. 7 position in the Eastern Conference, technically outside the playoff cutoff and in the 7-10 play-in range. They had dropped three of their first four games without Robinson, including the night he was injured on Jan. 18 against the Wizards.

Jalen Brunson had vowed to fire back at Brooklyn native and Knicks teammate Obi Toppin for trash talking ahead of last week’s NFL playoff game between the Eagles and the Giants. Brunson joked Thursday that there’s no need to respond after his favorite team trounced the Giants, 38-7, on Saturday to advance to the NFC Championship game against the 49ers.

“I think the score is enough,” Brunson said when asked about Toppin’s boasting. “The way we won, nothing needed to be said, so I’m just gonna leave it at that.”

Evan Fournier missed his second straight game following the birth of his second child. Marcus Smart (ankle) was out for the Celtics.

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