Tim Hardaway Jr.’s return is drawing nearer.
Originally, Hardaway pointed to the next week’s six-game trip against the Western Conference, but he could come back sooner from a stress injury in his lower left leg.
“It should be sometime in the near future that we get Tim back,” Jeff Hornacek said.
Hardaway reported no pain after going through his first full practice in five weeks Tuesday. He did an individual workout before Wednesday’s game and will practice Thursday.
Provided there are no setbacks, it’s possible Hardaway could play this weekend. Hornacek wouldn’t give a firm date though when asked about Friday’s game in Minnesota.
“We’ll see tomorrow how Tim is,” Hornacek said. “We’ll practice. He’s been going on all the trips. So we’ll see.
“He said before shootaround he feels good. Tim’s itching to go. But we do have to listen to doctors. We’ve got to be careful with it. That’s why he’s been going through this gradual buildup . . . so we’ll just continue that.”
Following Minnesota, the Knicks play a back-to-back Sunday at home against the Pelicans and Monday at Brooklyn. Then they head west. Hornacek already has talked to Hardaway about how he would use him when he’s back.
“It’s going to be a medium range until we build his stamina up and see how the leg responds,” Hornacek said. “I’m sure it’s not going to be a big, big number [of minutes] in the beginning. If he’s going well, and it’s 25 minutes, it’d probably fine.”
Update on Burke
The Knicks could be moving closer to signing Trey Burke. The 25-year-old guard wasn’t with the Westchester Knicks for the G-League Showcase in Canada, which began Wednesday. The team said Burke is out with hip soreness. The Knicks need to make a trade to clear a roster spot. If they can’t, they could waive Ramon Sessions.
Michael Beasley returned after a one-game absence with a sprained left ankle. He said he tried to talk the Knicks into letting him play Sunday’s game in Dallas. “I was going to play with a boot,” Beasley said. “Coach can’t keep me off the floor.” . . . Courtney Lee went into the game having made 43 consecutive free throws. The Knicks’ record is 44 set by Chris Duhon in 2008-09.