Storyline: Kristaps Porzingis Injury

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Even though the Mavericks aren’t publicly expressing this concern, at least not after a game in which Doncic registered 25 points, a career-high 17 assists and 15 rebounds, their fans certainly expressed alarm on social media — while Knicks fans unleashed a collective I-told-you-so. “We’ll see,” Carlisle said. “Hopefully he feels better tomorrow and we’ll just continue to move forward and hope he continues to feel better. He was doing real well on a day-to-day basis. It just didn’t feel quite right before the game. “So we’re not messing with it.”

The Mavericks opened training camp Tuesday with about as much good health as a team can realistically expect. J.J. Barea, who missed the last half of the 2018-19 season after rupturing his right Achilles tendon, went through virtually all of the first practice session. Kristaps Porzingis, last year’s blockbuster addition who missed the entire season after major knee surgery, was a full participant. And Tim Hardaway Jr., who had left tibia surgery for a stress reaction that cut his 2018-19 season short by 11 games, also had no limitations.

Meanwhile, the last Knicks franchise player to be recovering from a major injury was Kristaps Porzingis and his rehab created friction between the team and the player. According to a team source, the Knicks front office wasn’t in favor of Porzingis’ long-time Spanish physiotherapist, Manolo Valdivieso, traveling with the team. The Knicks wanted to keep Porzingis’ rehab in-house and since they made it known that Valdivieso was not welcomed on road trips, Porzingis elected to remain in New York and work with his hand-picked trainer.

Two weeks before that crucial injury, Porzingis was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team as his star was on a definite incline. Porzingis hasn’t played since sustaining that injury and was subsequently traded to the Mavs on Jan. 31. “Right now it’s really about his health and getting him 100 percent healthy, 100 percent strong and preparing him for an entire NBA season,” Carlisle told LETA. “He’s done an awful lot of work over the last two years since the injury. “He’s worked really hard since coming to us in February, and so we feel like he’s going to be able to be 100 percent and be ready to go come training camp.”

Porzingis, who will be a restricted free agent that the Mavs plan to sign to a five-year, $158 million maximum contract this summer, is preparing to help Dallas end a three-year playoff drought next season. “For me personally, the goal is to take that first step at least and make the playoffs,” Porzingis said. “I want to experience that. I want to get that first feel. I understand that we’re not going to win a championship in one year, but that is the end goal. But in my mind, we have to take that first step: make the playoffs, see how far we can get in the playoffs, get that first experience, get that first taste. Then take the next step and make the right moves towards that next step.”

“I’m not going to rush anything,” Porzingis said. “Of course I want to play. Three months out of the surgery, I was like, I think I can start playing maybe. It’s been on my mind the whole time. I’m really proud of myself for staying this patient with the knee and taking my time. There hasn’t been a lot of cases of a 7-3 guy tearing his ACL. The good thing about the injury is it was a contact injury. If it was not a contact injury, that would be much more dangerous for me. But it was a contact injury. That means my body mechanics are fine.”

All that said, a lot of the fan base has wondered if the Mavericks’ stance on Porzingis sitting out would change ‘IF’ the team ended up making it to the postseason over this last stretch of games. Would getting hot late tempt them to change their minds? According to Mavs owner Mark Cuban, the answer to that question is ‘no.’ “He is (still) out,” Cuban tells me on Monday afternoon, and than means regardless of what happens with the Mavs the rest of this season. While some might question the Mavs’ thinking there, I can understand where they’re coming from. If Dallas makes the postseason, there will have to be some excellent basketball played during this final 25-game stretch. If that happens, the team would be playing well enough that inserting Porzingis into the equation “cold turkey” wouldn’t make much sense, and might actually hurt their chemistry at that point.

Although the Dallas Mavericks have already acknowledged that Kristaps Porzingis won’t play in any games until next season, that hasn’t stopped them from laying the groundwork on what to expect from the 7-3 power forward. “Yesterday I had a chance to meet with Kristaps about how we see his role developing here,” coach Rick Carlisle said after Saturday’s practice at the Lympo practice facilities. “We showed him some film, we showed him some things involving Dirk (Nowitzki), some things involving some of the other top big men in the league that can play both outside and inside.”

A person with knowledge of the meeting said it was requested by the Porzingis brothers — after they had canceled a similar meeting earlier in January — and that it lasted less than five minutes. Later in the day, according to the person, Janis Porzingis provided the Knicks with a list of four teams he and Kristaps had deemed acceptable trade destinations. The Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers were among those teams, but Dallas was not on the list. The Knicks, meanwhile, were told Porzingis was prepared to leave the team and continue his knee rehabilitation in Spain if he was not moved by this week’s league trade deadline.

Kristaps Porzingis’ return date remains uncertain. That won’t change for some time. He is scheduled to be evaluated again in mid-February. His return from a torn ACL wouldn’t come before then. It may not even come until next season. When David Fizdale watched his star’s individual workout Friday, the coach had to remind himself of all of that. It was hard to accept that the All-Star throwing down dunks, and shooting 3-pointers, might not be available to him this season.

While watching Porzingis work with assistant coach Kaleb Canales, Fizdale said he’s seen little hint of the injury which has kept the Knicks’ franchise player out all season, and praised his ability to maintain a “positive” mindset. “I don’t see a drop. That I don’t see. I haven’t seen him move in a way that makes me go, ‘Uh oh,’ ” Fizdale said before Friday’s game against the Pacers. “I think we’re going about it the right way. His body looks great. He looks strong. He’s defined. It’s just a matter of time, and when we get him, we’ll be happy.”

Thomas said Porzingis has “the itch.’’ On Friday, the Knicks released a statement that Porzingis, after the latest round of strength tests, will be reevaluated in mid-February. As such, he won’t return until after the All-Star Break in late February, at earliest. “He’s working really hard, man,’’ Thomas told The Post after Mills’ meeting with the media. “He’s in there before everybody. He’s there when everybody leaves. While we practice, he just has that itch. You can just tell — seeing us compete so hard in practice. He comes to me and says, ‘Man, I can’t wait. I got the itch.’ He grabs a basketball on the side and starts dribbling it. He’s working really hard. I know he’s very anxious getting back on the court.”

Fizdale was less definitive about whether Porzingis is coming back this season. “I don’t think it’s at that place [of returning to practice],” Fizdale said. “At some point, I would think. I know he’s feeling better. Obviously his progress, we’re all excited about every step he takes forward. The trainers are keeping me in the loop as possible while letting me focus at the same time so I don’t get my hopes up for [Porzingis] too soon. But hopefully, the sooner the better.”
1 year ago via ESPN

New York Knicks coach David Fizdale said on Friday that he wasn’t aware that Kristaps Porzingis had been sprinting as part of his rehab from last season’s ACL surgery, after Fizdale’s comments the day before led to a misunderstanding that left Porzingis frustrated over the perception of his recovery. On Thursday, Fizdale said that the All-Star big man hadn’t begun sprinting and that he hadn’t made significant progress since the start of training camp. Once the coach’s comments were reported in the media, Porzingis took to Instagram, posting two pictures of himself sprinting on an outdoor track.
1 year ago via ESPN

Fizdale said he discussed the issue with Porzingis on Friday morning at the team practice facility and that player and coach are now on the same page. “We had a great talk about it. He’s working his tail off,” Fizdale said. “I think how he took (media reports of Fizdale’s comments on Thursday) was that people thought he wasn’t busting his hump, he took it personally. It got to him that people would think that. “I think maybe when he heard me say, ‘Hey we’re taking it slow’ and all of that stuff — that’s what we’re doing — but at the same time he (doesn’t) want people thinking that he’s not busting his hump because he’s killing it,” the coach added.

A week before the season starts and eight months since his ACL surgery, Kristaps Porzingis’ progress remains limited to a “slow drip” that’s frustrating the All-Star, according to Knicks coach David Fizdale. In other words, Porzingis is still not sprinting and his recovery timetable has not been affected by the start of training camp. He has not ruled out sitting out the entire season. “He’s feeling better every day, but it’s still that frustrating slow drip for him,” the coach said.

Porzingis is not playing as he recovers from a torn left ACL but he is with the team and active during practice. Tuesday, he was passing, rebounding, and coaching on the court. Fizdale wants to “surround him with a lot of love and keep his spirits up because he really wants to be out here with us.” “He’s such a big part of what we do,” Fizdale said. “A guy that’s that talented, what they see helps others. Maybe his body can’t do it right now but his mind and other aspects of service he can really help this group. That’s what he wants to do.”

Porzingis was on the floor with the team, but unable to participate in any way other than offering his own aid in experience. “He was in every aspect of our practice today,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “If he wasn’t passing to a guy he was rebounding for a guy, coaching a guy or he was talking to a coach on what we were doing. It was fun to watch him get engaged with the guys. It’s a tough time for him. So we’re going to surround him with a lot of love and keep his spirits up because he really wants to be out there with us.”

On Sunday, Porzingis released the third installment of his online documentary titled, “Porzingis’ Comeback.” He explained his decision to train at Real Madrid. “They allowed us to use their stuff for the rehab,” Porzingis said. “I chose Madrid because I was looking at different options and this one was the best for me because of their facilities obviously and just overall what they have available here is one of the top in the world.”

Porzingis is also working in Madrid with Larry Sanders, a Michigan-based athletic performance coach who works with the basketball program at Madonna University. Sanders said a big focus is getting both of Porzingis’ feet to explode equally. “He’s going to come back a different monster,” Sanders said in the installment. “His skills are more like a small forward. He was hard to deal with before, but he’ll be much harder to deal with after. He’s got the sense of urgency of a veteran going after his last contract.”
1 year ago via ESPN

“We’ve talked about his rehab. We’ve talked about how we want to play, our style of play. Talked a lot about the culture that we’re building. We wanna make sure that he comes back strong and healthy (from his ACL surgery) and we don’t want to rush it. We’ve had some really good conversations,” Fizdale said. “We talked about the kids we drafted (Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson). I’ve tried to make sure that he’s — we’ve been in communication on every decision that we’ve made.”
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