Kristaps Porzingis still leading the Knicks despite recovery from torn ACL

Kristaps Porzingis remains without a timetable to return to the court for the Knicks.
Kristaps Porzingis remains without a timetable to return to the court for the Knicks. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Kristaps Porzingis, the New York Knicks’ All-Star forward, currently is recovering from February surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, with no definitive timetable for his return. That hasn’t stopped him from leading the team off the court.

“Every time he’s out there, it just gives us so much confidence,” center Enes Kanter told amNewYork of Porzingis being with the team during games. “Seeing an All-Star like that cheering for you, clapping [for] you, it just gives you so much motivation.”

Second-year guard Frank Ntilikina discussed the impact of the 7-3 Porzingis in practice and film sessions, in which he takes a proactive approach.

“He’s really involved,” Ntilikina said. “He’s a great leader. Even if he’s not in the game playing with us, he’s trying to give advice.”

Knicks head coach David Fizdale also addressed the level of involvement on Porzingis’ part and how it helps before Saturday’s game against the Boston Celtics.

"It’s good for his mindset,” Fizdale said. “For him to be around, it helps him because it’s very easy to go into depression if you stay away from the team while you’re going through something that big, so I think it’s good for him. I know it’s good for us.

"The young guys really look to him for advice and for encouragement and he sees the game really clearly, so film sessions have been fantastic with him.”

Forward Lance Thomas, the Knicks’ longest-tenured player, echoed the sentiments of his teammates and coach. He noted the impact Porzingis is having on Kevin Knox, the No. 9 overall selection in this year’s NBA draft, as well as the rest of their fellow young teammates.

“He’s fully engaged,” Thomas said. “When he sees something, he speaks up. He’s giving advice to Kevin, all the other guys. You can just tell he’s itching to get out there.”

The Knicks, who visit the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, hope that Porzingis will be able to get out there healthy and return to the level of performance that earned him his first All-Star selection, shortly before his injury. If he does, his experience as a leader of the team off the court should make him a better leader on it and, ultimately, make the Knicks a better team.