Kristaps Porzingis doesn’t have to look too far for some advice and real talk on battling back from an ACL tear. The man who has passed him the ball all season can offer up another assist.
Jarrett Jack tore his ACL in 2016 when he was with the Nets. The veteran point guard said it took “about 17 months” before he felt he was all the way back.
Porzingis has a long road ahead after suffering the season-ending injury Tuesday night at The Garden. But he has youth on his side. He’s only 22. Jack was 32 when he blew out his knee, and he also tore his meniscus. So his rehab was lengthy.
“Everybody’s body takes to it different,” Jack said. “But his grade of his tear might be lower than mine.”
Derrick Rose was out 16 months after tearing his ACL with the Bulls in the 2012 playoffs. Zach LaVine was sidelined 11 months after tearing his last year.
Iman Shumpert returned eight months after tearing his in 2012 as a Knicks’ rookie. But he struggled and never regained the lateral quickness that made him a strong defender as a rookie.
Porzingis’ surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, according to a league source. The Knicks can’t provide a timetable until after has the surgery, but everyone involved is going to be cautious.
The organization wants its franchise player healthy and strong when he’s able to play, and not in any danger of having a setback. Porzingis will want to be all the way back. Jack said there could be one advantage when it’s all said and done.
“I know a lot of guys that when it happened in their 20s,” Jack said, “They said, I’m jumping higher than I was before.’ Because it’s leg workouts every day. Think about it, for 8-10 months, you’re doing legs every single day, every single day, every single day. They have no choice but to get stronger.”
Jack said he would talk to Porzingis and help him in any way possible about how mentally draining the process is as well as physically and emotionally taxing.
“It’s going to (stink),” Jack said. “Just the stuff that you’re used to doing. After you have the surgery, not being able to assist yourself to go to the bathroom. If you’re hungry, not being able to go get something to eat. ‘Damn, I’ve got to call for help. Where are my crutches?’
“Those types of things. I haven’t even started rehabbing and it’s already getting on my nerves.”
The Knicks believe Porzingis will come back better and stronger. He’s always been hungry and determined. Those two attributes will serve him well with what lies ahead.
ROAD WOES CONTINUE
The Knicks’ loss in Toronto Thursday dropped them to 23-33. That was their record after 56 games last year, and their record after 56 games in 2015-16.
No matter how much things change, they seem to remain the same.
This season mirrors last year somewhat. The Knicks were 16-14 both times, and had everyone in New York thinking playoffs. Then things fell apart for different reasons.
Last season, it was the Phil Jackson-Carmelo Anthony soap opera and Rose going AWOL. Distractions helped bring the team down.
This year, the Knicks took advantage of a home-heavy early season schedule. But losing Tim Hardaway Jr. for 20 games and a long stretch of road games caught up to them.
Without Porzingis, the Knicks are on their way to their fifth straight year of missing the playoffs and could lose at least 50 for the fourth consecutive season. The last time they did that was 1960-64.
DIZZYING DEADLINE DEALING
There were 12 trades made Thursday before deadline. The Cavaliers pulled off three in an effort to keep LeBron James. But they may have also cleared a path for him to leave for L.A.
Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman got younger, more athletic and filled needs when he acquired Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood, George Hill and a second-round pick for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder and Dwyane Wade in three separate deals.
But sending Thomas and Frye and their expiring contracts to the Lakers for Clarkson and Nance helped create more cap space for Magic Johnson’s team.
The Lakers should have around $47 million to spend this summer that could balloon to more than $60 million if they don’t keep Julius Randle. The Lakers have enough to sign two max deals, and their sights are on James and Paul George.
Johnson, the Lakers president, is “confident” he can fill those two max-salary spots.
“I wouldn’t have made the move if I wasn’t confident,” Johnson said.
This move helps both teams now and in the future. The Cavaliers had to do something to save this season and to try and keep James from bolting in free agency. Thomas wasn’t fitting in and was at the center of ongoing team drama.
The Cavs are deeper and now have a better chance at competing for a fourth straight Eastern Conference championship. That could go a long way with James.
Well-traveled Michael Beasley hopes to have found a home with the Knicks. The way he ends the season could help that.
Without Porzingis, the Knicks need scoring — now probably for a good chunk of next season. The opening is there for Beasley.
He’s the team’s best pure scorer. Beasley just needs to do it consistently, make better decisions with the ball and show some effort on defense and the Knicks could bring him back next year.
“Not thinking about the future,” Beasley said. “Stay aggressive. And we’ll let everything fall into place.
“I don’t really have the mental capacity to think that far into the future.”
The Knicks don’t want to eat into their 2019 cap space. So they could offer Beasley a one-year deal, or two years with a team option for the second, if he takes advantage of this shot.
“Definitely want to find a home but it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. “You focus on getting wins and getting better.”
WELCOME BACK, WADE
Somewhat lost in all the moves was Dwyane Wade returning to Miami, and how it happened.
He never wanted to leave South Beach, but Wade and Heat president Pat Riley couldn’t agree on a number in free agency two years ago.
Wade, a member of the Heat his entire career, was bitter. He signed with the Bulls in 2016 and then joined the Cavaliers this season to reunite with James.
It turned out he really wanted to reunite with Riley and the Heat.
In an interview with The Associated Press after he was traded back to Miami, Wade said he “always felt one day it would happen” and “it’s always been a hope” that he would return.
The relationship between Wade and Riley had become strained. But they saw each other recently at the funeral of Wade’s longtime agent Henry Thomas, who also represented other Heat players. Wade and Riley hugged, and that started the process of bringing Wade home.
“The hug was real and it was all we needed,” Wade told the AP. “That’s it. That’s all we both needed. I walked away and I felt better about everything, without even getting into anything.