Speaking to reporters on Thursday for the first time since being sidelined with a leg ailment, Knicks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. referred to the injury as “serious” and suggested that he’s not close to a return. Asked if he thinks he’ll be back before the end of the calendar year, Hardaway was noncommittal, per Marc Berman of The New York Post.
“The goal is just to get better first,” Hardaway said. “That’s the goal. I’m not giving myself a deadline. I don’t want to get to that point and be upset and down on myself. I don’t want to give myself a set date on when I should return. I’ll do what I can to get this right. When I’m confident and ready to go, then we’ll see.”
Hardaway, who hasn’t played since November 29, was diagnosed with what the Knicks simply called a “stress injury” in his lower left leg. While it’s not clear if he has a stress reaction or a stress fracture, both injuries could take several weeks to heal, Berman notes.
Although they lost three of their first four games without Hardaway, the Knicks are currently riding a three-game winning streak and are hanging onto a top-eight seed in the East. General manager Scott Perry recently expressed a distaste for tanking, so it will be interesting to see if New York can remain in playoff contention during Hardaway’s absence, as the trade deadline approaches — the club’s approach to the deadline could vary significantly depending on its place in the conference standings.