The New York Knicks released a non-update update on Kristaps Porzingis that provided a little more clarity to the timeline of his rehab on Friday. The team announced that the 7-foot-3 Latvian’s left knee “is healing well” and will be reevaluated in mid-February, more than a year after he tore his ACL.
The injury, suffered in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 6, derailed his first All-Star campaign and delayed the Knicks’ rebuild. The question of how long he will be out has lingered ever since. Original projections pegged Porzingis’ return at least a year away, and Knicks owner James Dolan said in April that the recovery timeline could fall everywhere “from December to him being out for the season.”
That, combined with conflicting news about how slowly he had progressed by November, had New Yorkers wondering if the team should hold Porzingis back all season in an effort to ensure that A) he returns as healthy as possible in 2019-20 and B) the Knicks are bad enough to earn a high draft pick.
The latest update from the Knicks seems to suggest that could be a definite possibility.
“The evaluation confirmed that Kristaps’ knee is healing well, and he has made good progress with rehabilitation,” a team statement said of its medical personnel’s recent evaluation of the knee. “Once he reaches the remaining rehab benchmarks, he will advance to on-court drills and activities.”
In other words, he’s a long way from returning to the court. Knicks fans might prefer it that way.
Complicating matters is that Porzingis becomes a restricted free agent this coming summer. The Knicks can match any offer sheet he signs, but without first seeing him play, it’s hard to imagine teams will be lining up to extend the max contract he seemed destined for pre-injury. If the Knicks hesitate, too, that could exacerbate a shaky relationship that the organization has worked hard to repair.
Will Porzingis push his return to the court in hopes of restoring his value entering free agency? Or will he delay his comeback to avoid further diminishing it? There are a lot of questions left unanswered by Friday’s non-update update. Here’s hoping we see his unique talent fully functional someday soon, because boy is it fun to see that Unicorn galloping around the floor, swatting shots and finishing lobs.
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