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Mitchell Robinson exits with sprained right thumb in Knicks’ blow

The backbone of the Knicks’ defense is injured again.

Mitchell Robinson sprained his right thumb in the first quarter of the Knicks’ ugly 116-105 loss to the Wizards on Wednesday night and will be further evaluated Thursday.

Coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t sure how long Robinson will be out.

“You miss who he is,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously that’s part of it. Overall we didn’t play well.”

The 7-foot rim-protector and elite offensive rebounder, missed eight games earlier this season due to a sprained right knee. He was limited to nine minutes Wednesday, and after he left, the Knicks struggled on defense in their latest home loss. For a large stretch of the fourth quarter, Thibodeau went with a small lineup of Julius Randle at center and RJ Barrett at power forward, and the Knicks allowed eight offensive rebounds in the period as they tried to rally from a big deficit.

“Mitch is really the anchor for our defense,” Barrett said. “Him going out, it’s an adjustment for sure.”

Mitchell Robinson, going up for a shot, was forced to exit the Knicks' 116-105 loss to the Wizards after suffering a sprained right thumb.
Mitchell Robinson, going up for a shot, was forced to exit the Knicks’ 116-105 loss to the Wizards after suffering a sprained right thumb.
NBAE via Getty Images

Jericho Sims, in his first extended action since Jan. 4, had two points, four rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes. Thibodeau said he would have to further assess who is the better fit with the first unit, Sims or Isaiah Hartenstein, if Robinson does in fact miss time.

“We’ll get a chance to look at it deeper and make a decision,” he said.

It appears that the Knicks are getting closer to trading Cam Reddish, the talented, out-of-rotation wing who had a significant role for them early in the season.

Talks involving Reddish, who hasn’t played since Dec. 3, are intensifying, according to NBA reporter Marc Stein.

The Mavericks, Bucks and Lakers are said to be possibilities for the free-agent-to-be. The Knicks, according to the report, are looking for a second-round pick in return. If they do trade Reddish to Dallas, the Knicks reportedly are interested in getting back Reggie Bullock, a Thibodeau favorite whom the team opted not to bring back after he played a pivotal role in their 41-31 finish in 2020-21.

In 43 games (30 starts), the defense-minded Bullock is averaging 5.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in 29.3 minutes for the Mavericks. He would provide needed wing depth for the Knicks, who could use another quality perimeter defender with size after Quentin Grimes and Barrett.

Three-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal (left hamstring) returned for the Wizards after missing the last five games. He scored 18 points in 29 minutes.

Jalen Brunson, who scored a game-high 32 points in the Knicks’ loss, wore a Jalen Hurts Eagles jersey to the Garden on Wednesday. Brunson is a big Eagles fan from growing up in Southern New Jersey.

“I’m sure Twitter is probably going crazy,” he said. “It is what it is.”

Brunson has so far declined to offer a prediction on the showdown.

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