The 2018-19 season has been a slog for the New York Knicks, the reporters who cover the team and its fanbase, but new comments from head coach David Fizdale concerning the recovery of Kristaps Porzingis represent a reminder that the Knicks have a bonafide superstar who is absolutely jonesing to get back on the court.
We’ll get to Fizdale’s positivity in just a moment, but first let’s take stock of what’s going on with the Knicks, both on the court and in the media. The weekend started off as many recent weekends have in Knicksland, with the team getting hammered at home by the Indiana Pacers as reports speculated that things might not be totally hunky dory between Porzingis and the Knicks. The most recent news that has been made to seem somewhat negative is that Porzingis is expected to stay here in the U.S. and rehab while the Knicks jet off to London to play the Washington Wizards on January 17th.
(For a quick reality check on that, remember that while Porzingis is on the bench at every home Knicks game, he has not been traveling to away games. So why would anyone think he’s going to travel to the farthest away game the Knicks play this season?)
Meanwhile, comments made on an episode of The Full 48, a podcast hosted by Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, wormed their way into multiple news stories because Beck, speaking to ESPN’s Zach Lowe during a segment called “Tanking or just Crappy,” said there have been rumblings of potential tension between Porzingis and the Knicks. Beck said he heard during last month’s G-League showcase in Las Vegas that the Knicks don’t want to let Porzingis play at all this season, even if he is ready. He also admitted that this is purely conjecture, and that he wouldn’t even report it as something sources said, because it’s merely a rumor.
Feel free to listen to the whole thing yourself. The relevant segment begins about 49 minutes in.
Further, we are only a few days removed from Max Kellerman, the host ESPN’s First Take — a show that is still on the air — repeating the standard line that because James Dolan owns the team, everything will inevitably get screwed up.
“This team has Kristaps Porzingis, and I am guaranteeing you right now they never win a championship with him,” Kellerman said. “They will mess it up.”
Hey, you have to make news somehow. As has been stated on this very website, the lead singer of JD & the Straight Shot is actually doing a pretty darn good job of owning the team but staying out of the basketball business lately, even as the Knicks have tanked harder than ever before.
Now that we’ve covered the various ways in which the sky appears to be falling here in New York, let’s get to the real news of the day. Porzingis’ recovery has ramped up, according to his coach.
“He’s in a really, a great groove right now with his workouts and his development,” Fizdale said, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley.
The great groove Porzingis is in includes him shooting pull-up threes and dunking. That’s right, our 7’3” Unicorn is in the phase of his rehab where he both shoots pull-up threes and dunks. Almost sounds like a combination of Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, doesn’t it?
Anyway, Fizdale also said that they are continuing to be cautious, but, ever the salesman, noted in the same breath that Porzingis is “pushing, getting to the next level, jumping and moving, his strides and all of that stuff.”
Fizdale even told a little ditty about how he recently covered his eyes while walking by Porzingis as he was doing some basketball activities because the thought of Porzingis coming back is so tantalizing that Fizdale doesn’t want to get too excited quite yet. Or perhaps the point was that Porzingis is so great that a mere glance directly at him could cause one to go blind. You be the judge:
"God, I got this 7-foot beast here" - David Fizdale can't wait to get Kristaps Porzingis back on the floor pic.twitter.com/BFT9lkjYr9— SNY (@SNYtv) January 11, 2019
One of the best things Fizdale said is that he hasn’t seen a dip in the mobility of Porzingis.
“I haven’t seen him move in a way that makes me go ‘uh oh,’’ Fizdale said. “I think we’re going about it the right way. His body looks great. He looks strong, he’s defined. It’s just a matter of time, and when we get him, we’ll be happy.”
With that last sentence, it’s safe to say that coach speaks for all of us.