Knicks starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo is in jeopardy of missing Wednesday night's season opener in Milwaukee after an MRI exam revealed a mild hamstring strain. He was unable to take part in the team's open practice Sunday at Columbia University's Levien Gymnasium and said afterward that he doesn't want to attempt a return until he is at full strength, something that might take two weeks.
Discomfort in Afflalo's left hamstring caused him to miss time at training camp, but he returned for the last three preseason games. He scored 10 points in 19 minutes Thursday night in Boston and felt so good that he asked to play into the second half even though it wasn't planned. It was then that he aggravated the injury and was forced from the game.
The Knicks evaluated him as "day-to-day" and coach Derek Fisher said, "He hopefully can do some things [Monday] and we'll start to see how things shape up for Wednesday . . . If he's available, great, we'll take it. If he isn't, we want to make sure there's 81 [games he can play] afterward. We're keeping that in mind."
Afflalo was a key offseason acquisition, signed to a two-year deal for $16 million. He averaged 15.2 points and more than 30 minutes per game during his last five seasons and is expected to take some of the scoring load off Carmelo Anthony. If he has to miss time or is limited, 31-year-old Sasha Vujacic is the favorite to replace him in the starting lineup, with rookie Jerian Grant and Langston Galloway also expected to take on some of his minutes.
Though he wouldn't rule himself out for Wednesday night, Afflalo said: "I don't want to make any promises. The key for me is just to get completely healthy."
He has some history with hamstring issues and said that the last time one affected him, it took about two weeks to get past it.
Given what is expected of him, Afflalo said sitting out will be especially difficult because "I intend to be valuable to the team."
Said Anthony, "Honestly, if he's lingering, I'd rather him sit out. The season's about to start. We've got a long journey. There's other guys on this team and we brought them here for a reason. If he can't play, it's their time to step up."
If Afflalo isn't there to carry some scoring load at first, Anthony is prepared. "The load is always going to be on me regardless," he said.
Notes & quotes:In a simulated quarter, the second unit whipped the starters 31-16. Vujacic played most of the minutes at shooting guard with the starters . . . The biggest roar from the crowd at the event for season-ticket holders was a reverse dunk by rookie Kristaps Porzingis off an offensive rebound.
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