GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Kristaps Porzingis remains the towering sight at Knicks practice, just not in the middle of the action.
With the new system being put in place by head coach David Fizdale, Porzingis has been active and engaged, not walking through with the rest of the players as he rehabilitates from the torn ACL that has him sidelined for an indefinite period, but learning and teaching.
“He’s on our staff now,” Fizdale joked. “He’s helping put stuff in. I mean the guy is so engaged and helping the big guys. He gets it. He sees exactly what I’m trying to do. He’s doing a good job of grabbing Mitchell [Robinson], grabbing Luke [Kornet], our young bigs: ‘Hey, look at it this way.’ ‘Do this this way.’ And when he’s not doing that, he’s passing for somebody. If he’s not doing that, he’s shooting or ballhandling or doing something on his own, where he can still be working on his skill set. But he’s staying very active and engaged.”
Fizdale said he expects Porzingis to be at practice and home games but not travel with the team other than short road trips.
“When we hit the road, a lot of times we’ll leave him behind so he can rehab,” he said. “But when we’re home, he’s with us.”
Courtney Lee sat out Friday’s practice session after suffering a strained neck a day earlier.
“We’ve been hitting,” Fizdale said. “He’s got a little whiplash. But he’ll be back soon. Everyone else has been locked in.”
While Fizdale wasn’t revealing his lineup, he has stressed that he likes to have a bigger player at the small forward spot after the Knicks started the 6-5 Lee there last season for much of the year. Kevin Knox, the 6-9 rookie, is the most likely to step into the void.
“My three and my four can often be the same exact thing,” Fizdale said. “Those are positionless things. Just starting the game, I don’t want to start off with a guy like Timmy [Hardaway Jr.] or Courtney, putting them at the three. I’m not saying I won’t play them at the three but I just don’t want to start them there against — you’ve seen the threes in our league: Kawhi [Leonard], Kevin [Durant], LeBron [James], them dudes are huge. We’re immediately at a disadvantage if I do that. So I don’t think it’s fair to do that to them. We’ve got capable guys a little bit bigger that we can put in that position.”