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Knicks’ Lance Thomas undergoes knee surgery, out four weeks

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Lance Thomas has a role with the Knicks — the veteran leader in the locker room, a trusted voice among the players. On the court, however, his role has been shrinking. He started the first five games, but between the Knicks going younger and being in need of reliable offense (Thomas is shooting 29.4 percent from three and with a troubling 46.9 true shooting percentage) coach David Fizdale has looked elsewhere.

Now the Knicks will be without him for a month.

Look for Kevin Knox to be the biggest beneficiary in terms of minutes, but things were trending that way anyway. Knox is part of the young foundation Fizdale is trying to build in New York, something that can support the now sprinting Kristaps Porzingis as well as potentially another star via free agency.

Knicks coach David Fizdale says Kristaps Porzingis isn’t yet sprinting, Porzingis posts photos of himself sprinting

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How is Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis recovering from his torn ACL?

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

David Fizdale, who said Thursday that his Latvian star still isn’t sprinting and remains at about the same level as prior to training camp: he’s shooting and jogging lightly.

“He’s still kind of there,” Fizdale said. “Not huge jumps.”

Porzingis on Instagram:

At best: Fizdale was intentionally trying to downplay Porzingis’ progress to protect the player. That’d allow Porzingis to exceed expectations later — or, if he suffers a setback, avoid scrutiny.

At worst: The Knicks and Porzingis are divided.

With Porzingis headed toward restricted free agency, his relationship with the Knicks warrants close monitoring.

 

Billboard recruiting Kevin Durant goes up in New York. On Oct. 25.

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Friday night in Madison Square Garden, the Golden State Warriors will thrash take on the New York Knicks.

This is Kevin Durant‘s one-and-only trip to the island of Manhattan this season, but he’s been linked there as a possible free agent next summer, meaning Knicks fans are going all out to recruit him. Of course, that means a billboard.

I get why it’s up but… it’s Oct. 25. We are 249 days from the start of free agency. This is like seeing Christmas decorations up in a store in August. It just feels too early.

Nobody knows for sure what Durant will decide next summer (including Durant himself at this point), but there is a sense among executives around the league that KD is going to leave Golden State to go somewhere and have “his own team.” There are already teams lining up to go after what is one of the three best players in the world and the two-time Finals MVP and the Knicks are high on that list.

If Durant is leaving, there’s some logic to heading to the Knicks. First, it would be his team, but there is some other talent there in Kristaps Porzingis (once he gets healthy) and potential quality role players such as Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kevin Knox. There is a well-respected coach there in David Fizdale now, who is trying to build a new, stop-skipping-steps culture for the Knicks. Durant would get out of the deep West (although Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Milwaukee are all serious threats). And, if you win in New York, it would be like winning nowhere else.

However, there are concerns (*cough* James Dolan) and Durant will have his choice of 28 teams that would love to recruit him (we can rule out Oklahoma City). Durant will have options, ones that could be more appealing than the Knicks. That might even include staying in the Bay Area.

But Knicks fans are already doing their part.

Report: Knicks’ Kevin Knox out 2-4 weeks with sprained ankle

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This is a blow — not just for the Knicks on the court, or the development of the team’s new young star, but for Knicks fans. With Kristaps Porzingis out for the foreseeable future, promising rookie Kevin Knox was the reason for hope, the reason to tune in and watch every night.

Now he’s going to be out for a couple of weeks, and maybe a month.

Knox went down after Boston’s Terry Rozier tried to cut Knox off in transition and fouled him. Knox was in a lot of pain and had to be helped off the court.

That sprained ankle will take 2-4 weeks to heal, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Ugh. The good news is this is not more serious and Knox will fully recover. But it’s a setback both for him and the watchability of the Knicks for a few weeks.

Kyrie Irving on if he hadn’t chosen Boston: ‘New York held a special place for me’

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Now Kyrie Irving is just teasing Knicks fans.

While he was reportedly New York’s top free agent target, Irving announced he will re-sign with Boston when he becomes a free agent next summer. He’s not looking around, not shopping his talents, not talking to the Knicks. That’s why he was greeted with some boos when introduced at Madison Square Garden Saturday night.

However, if Irving were going to shop his talents, New York might have won the sweepstakes, Irving said to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

“Every team was under consideration but obviously New York held a special place for me,” said Irving, who grew up about 15 miles away from MSG in West Orange, NJ. “Just being from Jersey and obviously envisioning myself as a free agent and ultimately taking a meeting and playing for (Knicks coach David Fizdale) and a great young core that they have here.

“Thinking about playing with (Kristaps Porzingis). That was a big thing before I made my decision just to plan on re-signing back with Boston. But yeah, of course, New York was a strong consideration.”

The Celtics are in a position to contend for a title this season and few more going forward (at least), which is what Irving said is the key reason he wants to stay. It doesn’t hurt that Boston can offer him five years, $190 million guaranteed, while the most the Knicks can offer is four years, $139 million. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table.

By the way, the Celtics beat the Knicks 103-101 in MSG.