Kristaps Porzingis is still far away from playing in an NBA game following the torn ACL he suffered last season. But according to his latest Instagram posts, he may be doing better in his recovery than his coach realized.
Porzingis posted two photos of him sprinting Thursday night following comments made by New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale that suggested the Latvian power forward’s rehab work hadn’t progressed much since before the team’s training camp.
Fizdale Says He’s Not Planning on Getting KP Back Soon
After a Thursday practice, Fizdale told reporters that he wasn’t counting on having Porzingis back anytime this season.
“I’m not even planning on KP at all,” Fizdale said. “I can see instantly how he fits, but I’m just trying to keep my mind focused on [the current roster]. Because that would just be a huge distraction for me mentally, hoping and wishing for KP, that 25, 28 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. I’ve got to lock in on these young bucks, keep them up to par.”
According to sources cited by The New York Post, the Knicks have expected Porzingis to return to the team this season. However, some of Fizdale’s comments seemed to suggest that the 23-year-old was starting to fall behind that timetable.
While Fizdale said that Porzingis was “working his butt off,” he also noted that the player hadn’t yet advanced beyond the light running and shooting that he had been doing before the Knicks started their preseason training.
“Sprinting, he’s not at that level yet,” Fizdale said.
Story Shows Porzingis Running in Stride
That seemed to draw the ire of the injured Porzingis, who posted two photos as an Instagram story that show him in a running motion on an outdoor track, apparently doing the sprinting his coach earlier claimed he was not ready for yet.
David Fizdale said Kristaps Porzingis is still only jogging lightly
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) November 9, 2018
On Friday, Fizdale once again talked to the media at the Knicks practice facility to say he had spoken with Porzingis and cleared the air.
“I think how he took [Fizdale’s previous comments] was that people thought he wasn’t busting his hump, he took it personally,” Fizdale said. “It got to him that people would think that.”
According to Fizdale, he had no idea about the running work because Porzingis hadn’t yet done any sprinting at the practice facility, and his attention had mostly been on the players who are currently on the court for the Knicks.
“I was happy as hell to see that stride, I know that,” Fizdale said. “I might go out with him next time and do some power walking because that got me out of the bed when I saw that.”
Porzingis had surgery to repair the ACL tear in February. The Knicks have never put a timetable on his return, though a typical recovery might allow him to play late in the 2018-19 season.
The 4-8 Knicks would benefit greatly from the return of their young star. In 48 games last season before the injury, Porzingis scored 22.7 points per game while averaging 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.
However, the Latvian’s future with the team isn’t entirely guaranteed. The Knicks did not sign him to a rookie extension before an Oct. 15 deadline, meaning he will be a restricted free agent in the offseason.