GREENBURGH, N.Y. — One day after making pessimistic comments about Kristaps Porzingis’ rehab schedule, David Fizdale walked them back on Friday. You might even say he sprinted them back.
On Thursday, the Knicks’ coach said Porzingis was doing some “light running” but added: “Sprinting — he’s not at that level yet.”
Later Thursday, Porzingis posted two photos on Instagram that showed him sprinting on a track, along with another photo of a UFC fighter that was captioned with a profane phrase that indicated someone wasn’t telling the truth.
On Friday, Fizdale said he spoke to Porzingis to clear things up.
“I didn’t realize he had [gone] out to the track,” a chuckling Fizdale said. “But I was happy as hell to see that stride, I know that. I might go out with him next time and do some power walking because, man, that got me out of the bed when I saw that.”
Fizdale explained that on Thursday, he was commenting on what he knew of Porzingis’ progress from an ACL tear based on what he sees in the gym. He said others in the organization were aware of Porzingis’ sprinting but added that he’s “oblivious” because he’s focused on what’s happening with the players on the active roster.
“Our guys knew, but they’re not doing the press conferences,” Fizdale said. “In here, he hadn’t done any of that stuff. I’m locked into the gym. I didn’t realize he had taken that next step to go to the track, getting his stride in order and getting that leg feeling good about running his normal stride. But like I said, I’m excited to see that. That was a real boost to all of us in the gym.”
Porzingis, who had surgery Feb. 13, is trying to come back this season, but the Knicks are not counting on it. That could lead to what Fizdale said is Porzingis’ frustration over the pace of his rehab. He hasn’t spoken to the media since training camp in September.
“I talked to him this morning,” Fizdale said. “We had a great talk about it. He’s working his tail off. So I think how he took it is that people thought he wasn’t busting his hump. He took it personal. It got to him that people would think that. This guy has been a terror on his workouts and I think that’s what it was in response to. 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 don’t want people thinking that he’s not busting his hump, because he’s killing it.”
It’s not the first spat Porzingis has had with Knicks management, though it might be the first one he’s had with Fizdale. The coach said it’s all behind them.
“Oh, yeah, we’re fine,” Fizdale said. “KP is great. He was in here today, running around with the guys, yelling at them, getting on them about timing and rhythm and defense. No, we’re in a good place, man. This team’s got good energy.”
The Knicks are 4-8 going into Saturday afternoon’s game in Toronto against the Raptors.
Surgery for Thomas. Forward Lance Thomas had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to remove loose bodies and will be out at least a month, according to the team. Thomas is averaging 3.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11 games. He started the first five games and then came off the bench but did not play in the Knicks’ most recent game on Wednesday in Atlanta. Rookie Kevin Knox, who is back from an ankle injury, will see more time as he gets healthier.