New York Knicks star forward Kristaps Porzingis might not be stepping foot on the court at all next season.
Team owner James Dolan told Larry Brooks of the New York Post that the torn ACL suffered by Porzingis in February could hold him out for the entire 2018-19 season.
“I’ve been told everything from December to him being out for the season, so I don’t know what to expect on that,” Dolan said. “But we can’t just sit on our asses while he’s away. We need to develop a team and then integrate him into it when he comes back.”
Porzingis was the Knicks’ only hope last season when the decision was made to trade away Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder. New president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry didn’t do much to bring a supporting cast around the Latvian, bringing on Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott in the Anthony trade (McDermott wouldn’t last the season before being dealt), and signing Tim Hardaway Jr. to a massive four-year, $71 million deal.
The 7-foot-3 “unicorn” was thrust into the spotlight as the face of the franchise and tasked with carrying the team, which was a fringe playoff contender at best with him in the lineup.
To start the year, he was one of the most electrifying players in the league, averaging 30.4 points per game over his first 11 games.
But as the season wore on, Porzingis became worn down, admitting that he was fatigued in carrying the franchise. He broke down in February when he tore his ACL in a Feb. 6 game against the Milwaukee Bucks, ending his season and any hopes of the Knicks being competitive.
New York was 23-31 prior to Porzingis’ injury. They would go on to lose 21 of their final 27 games, securing a fifth-straight season without playoff basketball.
With the Knicks rebuilding and now facing a year without Porzingis, a sixth-straight postseason-less year is already secured. Should that happen, the 22-year-old is going to come back to a very different-looking squad.
The Knicks are poised to have a top-10 pick in this year’s draft, though it will likely around pick eight or nine. But there is a possibility of drafting a talent like Villanova small forward Mikal Bridges, which would address a serious area of need. While this will likely be a quiet offseason for them this summer, the franchise will position itself to make runs at some of the top free agents in 2019.
Not to mention, there will be a new coach on the sidelines after the team fired Jeff Hornacek over the weekend.