Star forward Kristaps Porzingis will have surgery to repair his torn left ACL on Tuesday, according to Ian Begley of ESPN. He is expected to be out of action for at least 10 months, though a more specific timetable for recovery will be set after the operation.
Begley points out that in addition to sinking the Knicks’ playoff hopes for this season, it takes away an entire summer where Porzingis could be improving his game. On the other hand, it increases New York’s chance to land a high lottery pick in this year’s draft and provide an elite prospect to pair with Porzingis for the future. The Knicks are targeting the summer of 2019 for a free agent push, with only about $50MM in committed salary for the following season.
“He’s of course really sad because he wanted to be out there so bad with us,” said Enes Kanter, who talked to Porzingis on Thursday. “But I think at the same time he’s staying really positive. Like, ‘Man I just want to get my surgery done early so I can just start getting my rehab and I can come back and play.’ I think he’s going to come back even stronger because he’s really hungry.”
There’s more today out of New York:
- One player who can sympathize with Porzingis’ recovery process is teammate Jarrett Jack, who suffered the same injury two years ago, notes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Jack says it took 17 months for him to fully recover and warns Porzingis not to try to rush back into action. “Mentally it’s such a grind, as well as physically. Not letting the process deter you,” Jack said. “… I know you get antsy, as the process goes through, and you start feeling good, but just taking your time with the whole thing.” Of course, there’s no guarantee Jack will still be with the Knicks when Porzingis can play again. He has an expiring contract and could have his minutes reduced after the addition of Emmanuel Mudiay.
- The trade deadline passed with Joakim Noah still on the roster, but he won’t be rejoining the Knicks any time soon, Bondy adds in the same piece. His paid leave of absence will continue as the front office considers its next move. “It’s a mutual decision,” GM Scott Perry said. “He’ll be away until further notice.” Noah, who still has two years and close to $38MM left on his contract, has been clashing with coach Jeff Hornacek over a lack of playing time.
- Perry performed an important service by assuring Knicks fans that Porzingis will return better than ever after his surgery, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. It’s the type of public relations move that former team president Phil Jackson never viewed as important, Berman adds.