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Kevin Knox returns from ankle injury as Knicks trot out youngest starting lineup in franchise history


Usually it’s the other way around: the coach holds back a player on doctor’s orders. With Kevin Knox, however, David Fizdale went against his own recommendation and activated the rookie for Monday’s game against the Bulls.

Fizdale had been saying he needed to see Knox go through a 5-on-5 scrimmage before bringing him back from his ankle sprain. Knox, who had been sidelined for two weeks since badly turning his left ankle, never got that practice run.

It didn’t matter.

Kevin Knox should be back on the court Monday after missing seven games with an ankle injury. (Mary Altaffer / AP)

“If the doctors say he’s available and OK, then I’m not fighting the doctors,” Fizdale said.

Knox came off the bench Monday against the Bulls along with Tim Hardaway, who was active but still bothered by a lower back bruise sustained a night earlier.

Fizdale said he was unsure how long Knox could play following a seven-game absence, saying it’d be something to feel out after seeing him in action.

Knox, the ninth overall pick, wasn’t expecting heavy minutes.

“I don’t really care about starting when I come back,” he said. “Just trying to get out there and just get up and down the court, get some defensive stops, get a couple of dunks, get some baskets going. I’m not going in there expecting to play 30 minutes off an injury.”

Allonzo Trier replaced Hardaway in the lineup, joining Frank Ntilikina, Damyean Dotson, Mitchell Robinson and Noah Vonleh to form the youngest starting group in team history with an average age of 21.8.

If Knox ever replaces Dotson in that configuration, it’d be the youngest lineup in NBA history.

They’ve come a long way since being the oldest team in league history six seasons ago.

Courtney Lee opens up about the neck injury that has kept him sidelined all season.
Courtney Lee opens up about the neck injury that has kept him sidelined all season. (Mary Altaffer / AP)

Breaking his silence before Monday’s game, Courtney Lee said he’ll be re-evaluated in a week to see if he’s any closer to returning from a lingering neck injury.

Lee, who hadn’t spoken to the media since re-aggravating the injury about three weeks ago, revealed he had a shot in his neck to “calm the nerve.” He classified the injury, which occurred when he was fouled in training camp, as “spasms, strain, irritated and inflamed nerve with a little bit of whiplash going on.”

“Thought it was under control, went back to practice full go, got hit again and irritated that nerve,” he said. “Flamed back up so starting back from scratch.”

Lee, who played more minutes than any Knick over the last two seasons, has not played a game yet for the 2018-19 Knicks. And there’s not really a role for him, either.

He is the oldest player on the roster with a salary the Knicks would like to shed for 2019 cap space.

“(Youth movement) was a no-brainer. You look around the locker room everybody is young,” Lee said. “It’s not the team going young, it’s what we have. So I just got to go out there, know my role and compete, help the team as much as possible, whether it’s leading vocally or by example. So that’s my mindset is just go out there and do whatever my team needs me to do.”