PHILADELPHIA — Kristaps Porzingis’ long road back from a torn ACL is about to begin.
The Knicks’ franchise player is scheduled to undergo surgery on his left knee Tuesday, and his timetable for a return won’t start until after the doctors repair and clean out his knee. But NBA players generally miss nine to 13 months with an ACL tear, which could take Porzingis into February or March of next year.
“It’s a little bit of a mountain he’s got to climb for a year,” Jeff Hornacek said. “He’ll look back at this and probably be glad he went through it and got stronger. When you hit adversity and you bounce back, that says a lot about your character.”
Porzingis tore his ACL last Tuesday after dunking over Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Knicks remain optimistic that Porzingis, who made his first All-Star team this season, will come back stronger because of his work ethic and desire.
Porzingis worked on his body and his game each of the last two offseasons to come back better and stronger. This time he’ll have to add strengthening his leg to his regimen.
“He’s got a great attitude about it,” Hornacek said. “He knows he’s going to get back. He knows he’s going to get better than ever. He’ll be able to learn things from watching the game the rest of this year. He’s a kid that wants to be one of the best. He’s going to work hard to get back.
“He wanted to get it done as fast as he could so he could start rehabbing. It’s good that he’s going to get it done now. It’s unfortunate he’s going to miss All-Star Weekend. He wants to get back on the court as soon as he can. He’s going to have it and get back to working out.”
Pointing toward a change
Jarrett Jack’s minutes are getting cut to let the young guys play, and he’s expected to lose his starting job after the All-Star break to either Frank Ntilikina or newly acquired Emmanuel Mudiay. Hornacek has spoken to Jack about it.
“I’ve been talking to Jarrett ever since we made the trade,” Hornacek said. “He’s a professional. He knows what his role is. If he’s out there playing, he’s going to give it his all. If he’s not out there playing, he’s going to help our young guys. He’s good that way.”