Cleanthony Early Shot, Hospitalized During a Robbery In Queens, As Potential Trade Looms

Cleanthony Early is in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries after being shot early Wednesday morning. Daily News reports that Early was leaving the CityScapes strip club when he was followed by a group of six men wearing ski masks and robbed of all of his jewelry and other valuables. He was shot in the knee and was sent to hospital. Cleanthony Early was with his girlfriend at the time and she told the Daily News it was not something she expected after having a nice night out.

“It was a messed up situation. It’s not what you expect when you go out to have a good time.”

The couple had gotten into an Uber taxi cab when they left the club and were pursued by the suspects in three different cars. The cab was surrounded and the robbery took place. The knee that was shot was the one on which Cleanthony Early had surgery on last season.

The New York Knicks, for whom Cleanthony Early is the second forward, posted their gratitude that Early wasn’t hurt more severely and that they would not say more until they had more information.

However, Early himself has been on Twitter, thanking everyone for their support.

He posted again on January 1 with a very clear message.

A number of Cleanthony Early’s teammates have also expressed their support and concern on Twitter.

In addition, Dray Clark from ABC News was on the scene shortly after the robbery to report on the incident.

Cleanthony Early was drafted from Wichita and upon hearing the news of Early’s injury, KSN reported that Wichita State Men’s Basketball Coach Gregg Marshall released a statement of support.

“Our hearts are with Cleanthony on this difficult day. Because he lost his cell phone in the robbery, he has been unable to receive texts or calls, but I reached out to him this morning through his business manager and let him know that he and his family are in my prayers. We are relieved to hear reports that he is in stable condition, and we wish him a speedy recovery.”

The attack and injury to his knee come at a particularly vulnerable time in Cleanthony Early’s career. Despite the intention to have Early as the main backup for Carmelo Anthony, Rant Sports reports that Early has only played in five games so far this season. There is talk that Cleanthony Early was taken out of the game to allow previously injured Arron Afflalo to return, and that Early might be up for a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers in return for pick of the team.

Of course, one question remains: how bad was the injury to Cleanthony Early’s knee? NBC Sports reports that fortunately Early was released from the hospital and there was no lasting structural damage. This means that while he has to heal, he should be able to get back on the court with no issues.

But what about the injury to the Knicks after Cleanthony Early’s shooting? The team has temporarily lost a player, yes, but not a critical one by the sounds of it. According to the New York Sun Times, the more important issue for the team might be the fact that signing free agents to the team might be a tougher sell, considering the amount of crime that has been happening in the area of the NBA league office and Madison Square Garden recently.

Only time will tell how long Cleanthony Early will be off the court and what will happen when he returns. In the meantime, fans wish Early a speedy recovery!

[Photos by Nick Laham, Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images]