DALLAS — Tim Hardaway Jr. hit the floor with his teammates on Saturday for halfcourt drills in a major step in his attempt to return from a stress reaction in his lower left leg.
Hardaway, who has not played since Nov. 29 and has seen the Knicks go 7-11 in the 18 games he has missed, said he will be re-evaluated by the team’s medical staff this week. The best-case scenario has Hardaway playing again the following week.
“It was good,” he said. “Just part of the progressing process. Just building and building each and every day. Felt great to just be out there with the guys and I’m just happy with the results so far . . . Just have to see how it reacts — how I’m feeling the next day. I don’t feel anything right now, but you have to see how it feels the next morning when you wake up. Any pains, aches, but so far none of that has been going on, so I’m thankful.”
Once Hardaway is cleared to practice fully, he will have to get his wind back before he can be expected to play big minutes in games.
“I was fine for the first two, three minutes,” he said. “You have to get your feet warm a little bit and get the rust off in practice with the guys. I’m just excited just to be a part of it.”
The Knicks (18-21) have lost seven of eight and are in a tough road stretch. They certainly could use their second-leading scorer (17.8 points per game), but Hardaway knows he can’t rush an injury he didn’t expect to take this long to heal.
“I was itching to get back at Christmas,” he said. “It’s just painful not to be out there.”
Michael Beasley, who sprained his left ankle on Friday in Miami, is questionable for Sunday . . . The Mavericks will retire the jersey of former Knicks point guard Derek Harper at halftime.