The NBA debut of Westchester phenomenon Kenny Wooten will likely have to wait until next season, as the dunking blocksman recently tore a ligament in his left thumb and will be sidelined until at least April.
This is sour news, seeing as the Knicks are once again lottery-bound, so the end of the season should have been a showcase for Wooten, who has shown promise but can’t yet be trusted to play important minutes for a team seeking to compete. Wooten, who turns 22 in April, sustained the injury during an overtime loss to the Raptors 905 on Feb. 19, a game in which he posted 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Kenny Wooten tore a ligament in left thumb last week, per Knicks. Having surgery tonight.— Chris Iseman (@ChrisIseman) February 24, 2020
Here is one of the blocks from the game in which he got hurt, which came in the waning minutes of regulation with the W-Knicks down six:
Drop a '❌ ' if you missed this #WatchUsRise (@kennywootenjr) pic.twitter.com/7qasL7XCrw— Westchester Knicks (@wcknicks) February 20, 2020
And here’s another play from that game, this time of the offensive variety
ATTENTION— Westchester Knicks (@wcknicks) February 20, 2020
Woot is B A C K #WatchUsRise (@kennywootenjr) pic.twitter.com/YEwqWK3rqa
When he tore the ligament, the 6’8”, 235-power forward was actually playing for the first time since Jan. 21, having previously dislocated a finger on his other hand.
The Knicks signed Wooten to a two-way contract in January, and the plan seemed to be that he would get a chance to try some NBA minutes near the end of this season, but that is now very much in doubt.
Wooten’s out at least six weeks. The last game of the 2019-20 campaign for the Knicks — barring an exceedingly improbable playoff run — is about seven weeks away, on April 15 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Even if he’s perfectly healthy in exactly the six-week timeframe, the Knicks are unlikely to call him up for the final week of the season.
According to this story from Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks were “hesitant” to bring up Wooten regardless of his injury, because the team felt like he was getting the experience he needed in the G-League.
Sources have indicated they converted his pact to a two-way contract in January mostly to prevent another team from signing him away from Westchester as an NBA free agent.
Luckily, the contract the Knicks inked with Wooten guarantees the team has control of him next season as well. Players on two-way contracts are allowed to spend 45 days in the NBA, so next year we might get to see a decent dosage of Wooten.
haha re: CBA -- two year deal for Wooten— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) February 25, 2020
Wooten’s numbers — 7.6 points on 64 percent shooting, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 blocks in 27 total games this season — don’t jump off the page in quite the same way that the man himself jumps off the floor. But he’s a mind-boggling athlete who’s worth a shot, and it would have been really nice to have him to look forward to during the final weeks of this season.
Instead, the power forward minutes will continue to be gobbled up by the likes of Julius Randle, Bobby Portis and Maurice Harkless. On the bright side, however, the Knicks only need one more win to beat their total from last season, and they’ve got a little less than two months to secure that victory. Improvement! Take that for development.