New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale updated Kristaps Porzingis' progress, and the face of the franchise remains far from even practicing.
There’s still no Kristaps Porzingis for the New York Knicks, which was never a given for 2018-19, to begin with. He suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in February and remains without a timetable to return.
The last update saw Porzingis tell GQ that his rehab progressed and he started doing contact drills. It appeared to be a positive, but head coach David Fizdale put hopefulness for the face of the franchise’s return to rest, for now.
According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Fizdale said Porzingis isn’t “at that place,” meaning an imminent comeback to practice, but thinks it will happen “at some point.”
“I don’t think it’s at that place [of returning to practice],” Fizdale said. “At some point, I would think. I know he’s feeling better. Obviously his progress, we’re all excited about every step he takes forward. The trainers are keeping me in the loop as possible while letting me focus at the same time so I don’t get my hopes up for [Porzingis] too soon. But hopefully, the sooner the better.”
“We’re still going to stay with the idea that until it feels 100 percent to he, I and the Knicks, that we’re not going to put him in jeopardy to get hurt again,” Fizdale said. “We want to do it the right way by him and also the best thing for our team.”
Like the Knicks’ mantra for 2018-19, it’s all about “patience” with Porzingis’ return.
While the organization didn’t re-sign him yet, they have five years, $153 million to give the Latvian forward in the offseason. It’s a lofty investment that will reaffirm his placement as the standard bearer of New York basketball.
Bringing Porzingis back too early, of course, presents risk. Reinjuring the left knee may dampen his summer payout, and it removes the player the Knicks expect to lead them into the future.
Without Porzingis, New York has struggled mightily. In 2018-19, they sit at 4-13, with Tim Hardaway Jr. arguably its only primary scoring option. A group of players, 25 and younger, sit below him and Enes Kanter on one of the NBA’s most youthful rosters.
By the time Porzingis returns, if it’s not until October 2019, it could be with whoever the Knicks select in the lottery, as well.
They currently project to have the fourth-highest odds in the 2019 NBA Draft — putting them in line for Zion Williamson, Cameron Reddish, RJ Barrett or another prized prospect.
Also, free agency may bring the Knicks a marquee player. With over $30 million available in cap space, they nearly have enough money to pay a maximum salary. One more salary must shed to make this possible.
Patience, and the potential fruits of waiting can benefit the New York Knicks, intentionally or not. Having Porzingis back would shine a light on an otherwise down season, but if the playoffs aren’t in sight when this is possible, what will the organization decide?