CHICAGO — Tim Hardaway Jr. hasn’t been cleared for running yet, but he jogged over to the ball rack on the sideline, jogged back and shot a three-pointer.
Hardaway moved well and was in good spirits Wednesday as he continues to get positive updates on the stress injury in his lower left leg.
There still is no timetable for Hardaway’s return. But after he was re-evaluated by the doctors Monday, the Knicks said Hardaway “is making consistent progress” and he’s increased his on-court activities to include jumping.
The Knicks’ second-leading scorer will be re-evaluated weekly. Hardaway, who missed his 13th straight game Wednesday, hopes he’ll be cleared to run next week. Jeff Hornacek believes Hardaway will return sometime next month.
“Next week if we’re able to run, feeling good without any restrictions, we’ll see how that goes and keep moving forward from there,” Hardaway said. “Just trying to do it as smart as possible.”
Hardaway, who signed a four-year, $71 million contract last summer, is no longer wearing the hard splint on his leg when he’s shooting or doing on-court work. It’s another indication things are moving in a positive direction.
“I feel fine without it,” Hardaway said. “I feel like that was restricting me a little bit. Right now, I feel good, I feel a lot better. Hopefully we can continue going forward.”
This trip was the start of a stretch of 16 of 20 road games for the Knicks. Hornacek believes Hardaway will be back sometime during that period.
“Yeah, that’s all of January that whole road trip,” Hornacek said. “So hopefully he’s back at some point in that time. We’ll see how he progresses next week and we’ll just listen to the doctors.”
Former Bull Joakim Noah was inactive in his Chicago return. He also was inactive when the Knicks played here earlier this month.
Since the Bulls often go small, Hornacek said the Knicks “have more of a need for a guard,” so he deactivated Noah, who signed a four-year, $72 million contract in July 2016.
The former Defensive Player of the Year has been active only eight times this season and has appeared in four games. Noah is fourth on the Knicks’ center depth chart behind Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn, and Willy Hernangomez, who isn’t in the rotation.