After Porzingis ACL Nightmare, Knicks in Limbo Again

In some alternative universe the rest of us are excluded from, the Knicks thought they were going to make the playoffs as the 8th seed with Kristaps Porzingis leading the way. Those of us who know better and remember Bernard King knew something was lurking around the corner to mess it up. Not a curse. Not a hex. Not some voodoo mess. But just something that comes out of nowhere and ruins it. Evidence A: Kristaps Porzingis going up for a dunk and coming down with a torn ACL. Playoffs out the question. Becoming a seller and not a buyer. In the lottery again. Again. No title for the 45th year.

Here is everything that has happened since the Knicks won a title. There was a black president elected twice. There was a reality star elected once. There was a president who had sex in the Oval Office. There was a stock market crash, a housing bust, three wars, terrorists attacks, alt-right attacks, school shooting attacks, high school players in the NBA, no more high school players in the NBA. There was Magic and Bird and Isaiah and Jordan and Showtime and the Bad Boys and Kobe-Shaq and LeBron and the Big Three. There was the NBA lottery and NBA on strike and NBA squashing the Lakers attempt to get Chris Paul. There was the death lineup of the Warriors and Magic getting HIV and Derrick Rose heartbreak.

I take that back. Maybe this is the Derrick Rose curse. He left the Knicks but he didn’t leave the Knicks. He left behind his addiction to knee pain for Kristaps. Or, maybe this is the Zen Master curse. The player he drafted was the player he was going to use to make a point. Fire me and starting from scratch will be a New York Knicks thing.

It all so predictable. You get excited and then it’s over. Tanking is here.

There will be collateral damage. Like Jeff Hornacek. No need to keep him around. Let him play out the string and try to get David Fitzdale who knows how to coach young talent, has a couple of rings and credibility in the locker room.

There is the sensitive subject about Porzingis extension in a few months. Does his ACL injury change things? For most players, a tear has an impact on how they play. Look, before he played one minute of professional baseball, number one pick Chipper Jones tore his ACL. He recovered enough to be a Hall of Famer after having two more tears. It’s not a career red flag to tear you ACL but it is a red flag. Basketball is not baseball. Too much running and jumping. Porzingis blocks shots, he naturally bangs knees. What about his game will have to be changed, if anything?

The Offense Points FG% 3-Point% Assists Offensive Rating
Knicks 2017-18 103.8 (20th) 46.5% (10th) 36.0% (18th) 22.9 (8th) 106.9 (21st)

What does it all mean? The Knicks, with Porzingis, were 5 games out of the 8th seed. Without him there is a desperate need to look at what is happening in the draft and frankly losing to win.  Play a lot of young guys. Trade for draft picks. Make sure you are a top-5 lottery team again.

Kristaps P. Games Points 3-Point % Blocks PER
2016-17 66 18.1 35.7% 2.0 17.4
2017-18 48 22.7 39.3% 2.4 20.7

Sadly, the Knicks have found out that talent can be a cautionary tale. You are only one ACL away from everything being ruined. Kristaps had worked so hard to be an All-Star. His season without Carmelo was both agony and ecstasy.

He was draining threes at an efficient clip. His rebounding wasn’t what it should be for a seven footer. The book on defending him was to get physical, in other words, bully ball. It was frustrating at times for Porzingis. He saw up close how difficult it is to be the man and have everyone geared to stopping him. In a moment of pure honesty, he talked about the fatigue. It was a reminder of just how young he is to all of this.

The Knicks have yet to provide Porzingis with a second talent to absorb the burden.  All of this is learn as you go. And then in one second everything about his immediate life crashes. It is going to be different and difficult in the short term. Recovery is 9-12 months. Big men usually take a little bit longer to heal. Bernard King, much smaller than the Unicorn, healed but he never recovered his explosiveness.

What can you say? It is the New York Knicks. They have never been lovable losers, just losers without a trophy to point to. The Basketball Gods are holding a grudge. And so the wheel turns, once again, for the New York Knicks. The 45 year drought continues.

photo via llananba