Look away, Knicks fans!
When Kristaps Porzingis went down in a heap back in February, basketball fans feared the worst. News quickly circulated that the Latvian phenom had torn his ACL, was scheduled for surgery, and would miss 8-to-12 months. The most optimistic of Knicks supporters were hopeful that they might see Porzingis back on the court around Christmas time, but it sounds like those were generous expectations.
During the Knicks’ media day this week, Porzingis was asked if the recovery from his injury could keep him out for the entire year.
“It’s really hard to say,” he replied, according to SNY’s Danny Abriano. “I want to be back on the court as soon as possible, but it won’t happen until I’m 110 percent and medically cleared.”
The former fourth overall pick in 2015 (who was booed by Knicks fans when the pick was announced) was blossoming into a true superstar before the injury. In 48 games last season, he averaged 22.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game, while shooting almost 40 percent from three point range.
Porzingis told reporters that his rehab had progressed to “light running,” but that he’s still a long way from being able to endure the physical rigors of an NBA game — let alone a whole season of them.
“There is no protocol for a 7-foot-3 guy,” he added, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.
Knicks president Steve Mills also urged fans to be patient, as the 23-year-old is too valuable to risk rushing him back onto the court.
“There are a series of tests that are taking place to see exactly where he is in his rehab, and as he hits certain milestones we’ll continue his rehab process all toward the direction of when he feels 100 percent comfortable, when we feel 100 percent comfortable,” Mills said last, according to the Daily News’ Stefan Bondy. “We’re not taking any risks with him.”
The Knicks are hoping Porzingis will be one of their Big Three players starting in 2019-20, as they have maneuvered their contract obligations around enough to afford at least one — and maybe two — max contracts this coming off-season. They have reportedly made Kyrie Irving their number one free agent target.