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Porzingis out with torn ACL – What’s next?

This highlight is everywhere.  It’s on NBA on TNT, it’s on Eyewitness News, it’s on ESPN.

httpss://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sce–mR0kA

Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL in the second quarter of Tuesday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks and will be out for the rest of the season, if not an entire calendar year.  This comes on the heels of more poor play by the Knicks and a slide down the Eastern Conference standings.  It’s no surprise that the Knicks lost the game after the air was sucked out of Madison Square Garden.

However, the loss of Kristaps Porzingis isn’t nearly as catastrophic as most of New York thinks.  In fact, at  least for this season, it really doesn’t mean a whole lot at all.  It’s sad to say but Kristaps Porzingis was anointed as the next superstar of New York City well before he deserved to be.

We’ve seen this before with the Knicks over the past ten years.  A superstar or a young upstart lights the Garden on fire for a few games and becomes the city’s hero.  Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Jeremy Lin and now Porzingis;  It’s a never-ending cycle of disappointment.  Don’t get me wrong. Kristaps Porzingis is a very good player, but he will never be a number one option or a top-10 player in this league even if he stayed healthy.

Regardless of how I think of Porzingis, it is no doubt a huge loss for an already depleted Knicks team.  Tim Hardaway Jr. has been in and out of the lineup with little consistency, and the Knicks now don’t have a legitimate primary scoring option in their rotation.  What does this mean for the Knicks going forward for the rest of the year?

Play the kids as much as possible:

The Knicks are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference right now with a 23-32 record.  They’re never going to say they’re going to tank with their star player out, but the Knicks should rely a lot less on guys like Jarrett Jack and a lot more of guys like Doug McDermott and Frank Ntilikina.

The Knicks need to figure out who their core is going to be in the next few years.  Are they going to be able to land LeBron James or another premier NBA superstar next year, or are they going to build around Kristaps Porzingis whenever he comes back?

Either way, you need to evaluate what you have and what you need going forward.  Is the French prince the answer at point guard?  Will McDermott be able to be a consistent starter for the Knicks going forward?  What can Michael Beasley and Enes Kanter bring to the table on a nightly basis without Porzingis drawing double teams down low?

Show Willy Hernangomez some love:

Just kidding, the Knicks traded Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets for two second -ound picks in 2019 and 2020, as well as forward Johnny O’Bryant..  First of all, you know it’s a bad trade when the guy you trade for sounds like a generic computer-generated player in NBA 2K18.  Second of all, Hernangomez would have been the perfect player to replace Porzingis in the lineup.

It’s a mystery as to why Hernangomez never received any playing time this year.  He was on the All-Rookie team last year and while a little soft still had plenty of skill he brought from his days in Europe.  Couple that with his dynamic chemistry with KP and he should have been a shoe-in for a valuable bench spot.  Instead he was buried behind guys like Ron Baker and never reached his potential as a Knick.

The trade doesn’t make much sense because second-round picks are for the most part crapshoots with most of the players never even reaching the NBA.  In addition to that, the Knicks have already waived O’Bryant, so unless they plan on using those picks as part of a bigger deal, it is SUCH a typical Knicks move to trade for things they don’t need and trade away a young player with potential.

Fire Jeff Hornacek

I’ve had just about enough of Jeff Hornacek.  I don’t care how injury-plagued your team is, you aren’t a good coach and you don’t deserve to make the Knicks even worse than they are.  The meltdown against Atlanta last week should have been the best time for the organization to fire Hornacek.

Hornacek has a tendency to leave his players out for too long, not substitute when he should, not call timeouts when the momentum has swung, and refuse to call logical plays at the end of games.  Scott Perry and Steve Mills should fire Hornacek while Porzingis is hurt and start the search immediately for the head coach that the two executives want.  There’s a reason why Hornacek is only 54-83 as the Knicks head coach, and it isn’t talent.

Hope for the best

It’s a hard concept for Knicks fans to accept.  They haven’t had any sustainable success since the late 90’s and while they are the most valuable franchise in the NBA they’ve never been in a worse spot.  The fans are tired of hearing excuses and they want to root for a winner.

Looking at it in an optimist, this could have been the best thing to happen for the Knicks.  They’ll most likely be a lottery team by the end of the year, hopefully strike gold with their pick, wait for Porzingis to come back healthy as ever.  They could also play around in free agency, throwing as much money as they can at LeBron James or another legitimate superstar.  I personally don’t trust the Knicks to do any of that, but sometimes you just have to think positive.

Kristaps Porzingis tearing his ACL is terrible for the Knicks, but the season wasn’t going anywhere this year anyway.  The thing that worries me most is that this ACL tear is a look into the future of what Porzingis will become;  an injury-prone big man with knee issues and lots of time off.  He’s only 22 but he’s already stated this season that he’s “tired” halfway through the season.  He also has already taken plenty of time off for knee soreness.

I think he’s going to be okay, at least for the next few seasons, but he CANNOT be the Knicks’ primary scoring option.  We’ve seen what he can be as the Knicks’ top option, and it isn’t that impressive.  I’m just hoping for a speedy recovery because win or lose “The Unicorn” really is a special player.

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