Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis has made no progress on the court, still not able to sprint nine months after surgery

Now nine months removed from ACL surgery, Kristaps Porzingis’ return to playing basketball doesn’t feel any closer.

At least that’s based on the information provided by David Fizdale, who said Thursday that his Latvian star still isn’t sprinting and remains at about the same level as prior to training camp: he’s shooting and jogging lightly.

“He’s still kind of there,” Fizdale said. “Not huge jumps.”

Porzingis, however, may be doing more outside the Knicks facility. After stories published Thursday afternoon cited Porzingis’ lack of progress, he posted Instagram photos in which he appeared to be sprinting at an outdoor track. Though there’s no telling when the photo was taken.

Since the Knicks did not ink him to a contract extension, Porzingis will become a restricted free agent in July. They can match any offer and their plan is to re-sign the 23-year-old, who has not spoken publicly since September.

But at this point, the Knicks don’t have a firm grasp on whether Porzingis will return at all this season. In addition to consulting Knicks doctors, the forward employs his own medical team, separate from the franchise. His Instagram photos were an indication that he’s doing more work off the court, and Fizdale even acknowledged he’s out of the loop regarding Porzingis’ strengthening benchmarks.

The coach said that thinking about “The Unicorn” would detract from his work developing the youngest roster in the NBA.

“I’m looking at these guys right now. I’m not even planning on KP at all,” Fizdale said. “I can see instantly how he fits, but I’m just trying to keep my mind focused on them. Because that would just be a huge distraction for me mentally, hoping and wishing for KP, that 25, 28 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, whatever. I’ve got to lock in on these young bucks, keep them up to par.”

Prior to training camp, Porzingis said he hoped to travel with the Knicks on road trips. But plans changed. He has only attended road games in Brooklyn.

“Right now we just feel like let’s keep him in his groove, keep that leg where it is,” Fizdale said. “Travel is tough with rehabbing it. So right now we’ve all come to the agreement, on a lot of these trips, we’re just keeping him home.

“He’s going to come on some. He’s got a good rhythm going. We like the routine we got him on right now. And so I’m okay with it. He’s really lived up to everything I’ve asked from him. He’s even asked to come on some trips. When it’s right, it’s right, and we’ll do it.”

With Porzingis out, the Knicks struggled out the gate at 4-8 ahead of Saturday’s game at Toronto. Tim Hardaway Jr. has emerged as the club’s No. 1 option, averaging over 24 points per game on 41 percent shooting. Fizdale doesn’t anticipate an issue reinstalling Porzingis into a system that has featured Hardaway, if the two ever get the chance to play together again.

“The beauty of it is they complement each other. In a lot of stuff we do they’re going to be playing off of each other. So I don’t feel like it’ll be a battle. Usually those situations are tougher when you’ve got guys that are very similar and now they’re kind of stepping on each other’s toes. That’s kind of something I experienced in Miami with (Dwyane Wade) and LeBron (James),” said Fizdale, a former assistant with the Heat. “When we first got them they were just stepping on each other’s toes, because they both attack, they both post, both run high pick-and-roll. So we had to figure out how to get them away from each other on the floor and spread them out. This is a different scenario. These two fit. They can end up being a really deadly two-man game once we get KP back.”

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
34°