Knicks forward Cleanthony Early, who was wounded in a December 30th shooting, probably won’t return to the court until after the All-Star break, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The second-year player was shot once in his right knee during a robbery. Team president Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills haven’t made any public comment on the incident, but an unidentified friend of Early’s told Berman that the recovery is progressing well. “He’s feeling better and he’s going to be fine,’’ the friend said. “It was the best possible outcome, and it’s not going to have any effect on his career. There was no structural damage and no infection, so he didn’t need surgery. That was the beautiful thing, not needing surgery. Thank God — his knee could’ve been blown out.’’
With an opening already on the roster, Early’s absence has left the Knicks with just 13 available players, and Berman writes that the team is “exploring several options” to add someone via a 10-day contract. The Knicks are examining the players waived because of this week’s deadline for guaranteed contracts and were keeping an eye on the D-League showcase that ends today. Jimmer Fredette, part of the Knicks’ D-League franchise in Westchester, was considered, but coach Derek Fisher wants a better defender, according to Berman.
There’s more this morning from the Big Apple:
- The Knicks’ near-miss Friday in San Antonio and their overall competitiveness during a challenging stretch shows that Fisher has developed an effective combination, Berman writes in a separate piece. Their recent success, Berman notes, coincides with Fisher’s decision to cut his rotation to nine players and limit the playing time of Kyle O’Quinn, Kevin Seraphin, Sasha Vujacic and Lou Amundson.
- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had good things to say about rookie Kristaps Porzingis, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Porzingis is averaging 13.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game halfway through his first NBA season. “They were very astute in figuring out what he might be down the road,” Popovich said. “His agility, his sense of the game, his skills, are quite significant. I think he’s going to be a great player.”
- New York’s best opportunity for improvement next season will come through free agency, contends Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The Knicks will have approximately $20MM in cap space this summer and won’t have their first-round pick because of the 2013 Andrea Bargnani trade.