While Trey Burke has been an unlikely contributor to the Knicks backcourt, he's also proven vital for the team's depth as the injury bug has taken its toll on New York's guards.
On Monday, the Knicks announced that Ron Baker will undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his injured right shoulder on Wednesday. A procedure that will keep him sidelined for the next four-to-six months before he can participate in basketball activities again.
Baker initially injured the shoulder, which was later diagnosed as a dislocation and torn labrum, during a Jan. 30 win over the Brooklyn Nets. He had already been playing hurt with a facial fracture.
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The second-year guard provided high-energy play, especially on the defensive side of the ball, off the bench for the Knicks behind Jarrett Jack and Frank Ntilikina. He ranked fourth on the team with 0.9 steals per game despite averaging just 13.3 minutes per outing.
One of those guards in front of Baker, Ntilikina, is also going through some injury issues of his own after he was held out of the second half during Sunday's embarrassing loss to the Atlanta Hawks because of knee soreness.
Knee issues have been somewhat of a nagging issue for the Knicks rookie, who missed a majority of the Summer League and preseason because of it. However, he was quick to point out that this soreness is unrelated to the troubles he experienced prior to the start of the regular season.
"It was just over time," Ntilikina said (h/t ESPN's Ian Begley). "It's been like, a month. I feel my knee is a little sore. Now it was a little more. It's going to be alright."
Losing Ntilikina for an extended period of time would have worn the Knicks thin at the point guard position with just Jack and Burke to hold things down. It also would have hardly been the kind of rotation needed for a team that is hanging on to playoff aspirations for dear life.