GREENBURGH, NY — Reggie Bullock prefers not to speak publicly about his sister’s murder. Her name is tattooed on his biceps, and he mentions vaguely about being “down for a bit” during his rehab from the spinal surgery he underwent last summer. He will say, though, that he appreciates how the Knicks didn’t give up on him, and is eager to help them in return.
“Despite all the things that I went through, they were just right there, like a family,” Bullock said Wednesday. “I feel family here and that’s what it was throughout the whole process. They kept me level-headed and they supported me.”
What was once assuredly a sore point — a free-agent contract whittled down to less than half of its original value because of a failed physical, and the spine surgery that came later — is now just another obstacle to surmount.
And in that facet, Bullock is making significant strides: The veteran swingman practiced fully with the Knicks for the first time since his spinal fusion surgery in July, and though there’s no current timetable for his return, Bullock said he is looking forward to working on his conditioning and having an impact.
“It looked like a long journey,” Bullock said. “Back way in July, even when it happened, I was just thinking about, December is so far along, so far away . . . [I] worked hard to be able to get back out here, to be able to play with my guys, play with the Knicks. It was a long journey but I’m right here almost at the finish line so just continue to keep pushing.”
And so much has happened in the interim. Brought on to boost the Knicks perimeter shooting, Bullock was originally signed to a two-year, $21 million deal. The physical, though, revealed his spinal injury, and the contract was readjusted to be worth $8.2 million slotted into a $4.8 million room exception, and a team option for the second year.
That was unwelcome news, but then, what happened in November was a tragedy: His 22-year-old sister, Kiosha Moore, was shot and killed in Baltimore. His other sister, Mia Henderson, was also murdered in Baltimore years before.
Though Bullock didn’t address the death directly, he did acknowledge that the last few months have taken their toll.
“I had no choice” but to keep going, he said. “This is my life. Basketball is my life. And I knew that this was a tough injury to deal with and it was a long time that I would be down. I just kept focusing. I just knew I had to just keep pushing for myself and I knew that I’d be able to overcome it and make a strong comeback and I’ll be ready for it.”
Notes & quotes: The Knicks announced the hiring of former Cavaliers coach David Blatt as a basketball operations consultant. Blatt was on hand for practice.“I think it’s a great resource to the organization,” interim coach Mike Miller said. “He’s going to be more on the operations side.” . . . Frank Ntilikina (illness) and Julius Randle (sore left leg) did not practice.