New York Knicks coach David Fizdale says he and Kristaps Porzingis are on the same page regarding his recovering, admitting he was a “doofus” for not being across the situation.
Fizdale said on Thursday he did not think 23-year-old forward-center Porzingis was that far along on his recovery from ACL surgery, just doing some shooting and light running.
Porzingis seemed to refute that quickly, posting photos of him sprinting on an outdoor track.
However, Fizdale says he now has a better understanding of Porzingis’ fitness levels having spoken with him after Friday’s practice.
“I’m the only doofus that didn’t know he had went out to the track,” Fizdale said after practice Friday. “Like I said, part of it is because I’m just locked into [coaching the team].
“We had a great talk about it. He’s working his tail off. I think how he took [my comments] was that people thought he wasn’t busting his hump, he took it personally. It got to him that people would think that.
“I think maybe when he heard me say, ‘Hey we’re taking it slow’ and all of that stuff — that’s what we’re doing — but at the same time he [doesn’t] want people thinking that he’s not busting his hump because he’s killing it,” the coach added.
Porzingis, 23, injured his knee in February and missed the remainder of last season. The team has been steadfast about not rushing him back and on Thursday, Fizdale said the team had not seen much progress recently.
The Knicks have opened the season 4-8 and sport the youngest roster in the NBA.
In October, the team declined to offer a contract extension for Porzingis in order to free up an expected $10m to pursue free agents next summer.
Porzingis will be a restricted free agent then and the Knicks are projected to have just a little more than $30m available under the salary cap, enough to lure a max value contract in free agency.
“I’m hungry,” Porzingis said at the team’s media day before the season. “I want to be on the court as soon as possible. It’s good that I have a good team around me, holding me back when I need to be held back, telling me I need to be patient. It’s a long process, already 7 1/2 months.
“I’m getting itchy. But it won’t happen until I am 110 per cent and medically cleared.”
The 7-foot-3 Latvian would not rule out missing the entire season, offering only “it’s hard to say,” when asked about the possibility.
In 48 games last season, Porzingis averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Entering his fourth season, he has career averages of 17.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
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