The Knicks got some good news regarding Kristaps Porzingis but not on Tim Hardaway Jr.
Hardaway will miss at least two more weeks with a stress injury to his left leg.
The team announced Tuesday that Hardaway has begun a treatment and rehabilitation plan, and he will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Hardaway will miss at least the next seven games.
Earlier in the day, the Knicks said Porzingis is probable to return Wednesday against Memphis when they try to snap a two-game losing streak. The Knicks (11-12) were without Porzingis and Hardaway in both games. They trailed by 38 and lost, 115-97, Monday in Indiana minus their top two scorers.
The loss of Hardaway is significant, and there’s obviously concern he could be sidelined longer than two weeks after his injury seemingly came out of nowhere.
Hardaway was slowed earlier in the season with a left foot issue but didn’t miss any time. Jeff Hornacek indicated it could be plantar fasciitis, but Hardaway said it wasn’t.
On Sunday, Hardaway was expected to play against the Magic. But he was a late scratch after team doctors noticed the stress injury less than an hour before tipoff.
The Knicks made the fifth-year swingman their big offseason signing. They gave the restricted free agent a four-year, $71- million contract to lure him away from Atlanta and become their second option behind Porzingis.
Hardaway has done well in that role. He’s averaging 17.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists. All are above his career averages.
“I think he’s been huge,” Hornacek said. “Obviously KP has taken that leadership role, but Tim’s right up there also on that and made some big plays.
“The two-man game that they run with him and KP has been pretty good late in games. He’s got the ability to be outside, but he also can drive the ball. So that three-point threat makes guys get up on him and allows him to drive. He can get his shot off almost anytime he wants, which not a lot of our guys can . . . Guys that can create their own stuff are important. Tim’s played great for us so far. It’s a tough loss right now.”
Hornacek has started rookie Damyean Dotson in Hardaway’s place the past two games. It’s uncertain if Hornacek will continue to go that way or start either Doug McDermott or Michael Beasley at small forward.
Beasley has started for Porzingis and given the Knicks some needed scoring. But he’s not a good defender and often careless with the ball. Beasley, who has started three of the past six games, has averaged 21.3 points and 5.3 turnovers in those starts.
“It’s something I’ve kind of been hard on myself about,” Beasley said. “I just got to be better.”
Beasley said he wasn’t worried about the Knicks staying afloat without Hardaway.
“Not at all,” Beasley said. “We’ll figure it out. We did at the beginning of the season when Tim was in his slump. So hopefully it’s not long term with Tim.”
Porzingis’ impending return should give the Knicks a needed boost on both ends. They have lost all four games that Porzingis has missed this season. He’s fifth in the NBA in scoring, averaging 25.8 points, and his 2.11 blocks rank second.
When Porzingis initially was injured — he suffered an ugly-looking ankle injury when Heat forward Justise Winslow stepped on him last Wednesday — it looked as if he would be out an extended period. Porzingis and the Knicks definitely avoided a major scare.
“I knew it was bad because I felt my ankle touching the floor,” Porzingis said after the Miami game. “I think it looked worse than it felt.”
The Knicks are grateful for that, but now they have to figure out how to win without Hardaway for at least the next two weeks.