Add Tim Hardaway Jr. to the list of injured New York Knicks players who don’t have a timeline for return.
Kristaps Porzingis is currently on the shelf with an ankle injury, and the team isn’t quite sure how much time he’ll miss. The same can now be said for Hardaway, who has missed the Knicks’ past two games with what’s being termed a stress reaction in his lower left leg.
Though initially considered a minor injury that would prompt him to miss a tilt or two, head coach Jeff Hornacek didn’t sound so optimistic just before his team got waxed by the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, per Newsday‘s Al Iannazzone:
“There’s concern with anybody when it’s an injury that might be longer than a game or two,” Jeff Hornacek said before the Knicks lost to the Pacers, 115-97, on Monday night. “He’s getting evaluated so we’ll find out more.”
It sounds as if Hardaway, the Knicks’ second-leading scorer, will miss far more than two games. Hornacek said he isn’t sure how long he’ll be out.
“Don’t know yet,” he said. “Just like with KP’s ankle, how ugly that looked, and we’re hoping to get him back in the next couple of games. Right now, we can’t say. We’re hoping it’s not too long.”
Like it or not, these sabbaticals could be the best thing for the Knicks. They’ll play themselves out of playoff contention if Hardaway and Porzingis miss more than a couple games, which could, in turn, prompt them to embrace the tank they should already be trying to author.
Remember: The Knicks aren’t flush with cap space this summer. They might not have much flexibility in 2019, when Porzingis’ new deal presumably kicks in. That makes this year’s draft crucial to the rebuilding process. And while you don’t want to see Porzingis and Hardaway, who has been playing well of late, miss time for the cause, you also shouldn’t want to see the Knicks play themselves into 30-something-win purgatory,
Hopefully these absences don’t turn out to be serious. No one wants that. But these injuries could also serve as a long-awaited wake-up call, inciting a rough stretch that prevents the Knicks from going all out to chase a first-round playoff exit they’re probably not even good enough to attain.