logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo
star Bookmark: Tag Tag Tag Tag Tag
USA

Kevin Knox’s ankle injury may end Knicks rookie’s promising stretch run

Kevin Knox’s game had grown this month in David Fizdale’s eyes.

On most nights, Knox saw the court better, was more aggressive, assertive and not afraid to keep launching shots even when he was off. His weakside defense was another matter, but Fizdale felt legitimate steps were being made despite a lethargic outing here and there.

Now Knox is down and maybe out. Knox, selected ninth in the 2018 draft, sustained a right ankle sprain in the final seconds of the first half against the Clippers on Sunday while rolling up 11 points in an electric showing. He’s listed as day-to-day. With eight games left, this could mean the end to his rookie season.

“He was playing really good basketball before he got hurt,’’ a frustrated Fizdale said. “That’s probably the most frustrating part of the injury.’’

With three days off before the Knicks return versus Toronto on Thursday, the club took the day off and Knox was unavailable for comment. The 19-year-old had left the arena Sunday by the time reporters were let into the locker room.

There’s great debate on how successful his rookie season has been. His shooting woes are well-documented, as is his lethargy on defense. But Fizdale sees things.

“He’s definitely making strides,’’ Fizdale said Sunday. “He’s our go-to guy — as crazy as that is. With all his ups and downs, he’s really handled this whole thing great. I’m starting to see real progression in how the game’s slowed down for him. He goes with the flow. He doesn’t get too high or low. He keeps plugging away with the same attitude every day and he listens. The kid — when it all slows down — will be a pretty good player.”

Eight days ago, LeBron James huddled with Knox for several minutes after the Lakers game at the Garden and issued a piece of advice — become a better playmaker. Knox is averaging one assist in 28 minutes a game.

Fizdale thinks he’s seeing the floor better and loves that he now won’t get deterred by a handful of bricks. Knox is shooting 36.2 percent and his effective field-goal percentage (with 3-pointers factored in) ranks 438th in the NBA.

David Fizdale
David FizdaleCharles Wenzelberg

“I don’t care about the numbers right now,’’ Fizdale said. “Those shots are going to fall as he gets stronger, more sure of himself, more reps at it. I’d rather have to tell a guy what I’m telling him: ‘Keep shooting, just do what you’ve been doing,’ rather than having to say, ‘Man, this guy won’t even take a shot.’ I haven’t had to prod Kevin from that point.”

As for the Knicks’ 2017 lottery pick, the bad luck kept piling on. Frank Ntilikina’s status for the rest of the season is unclear after aggravating his groin Sunday in the first half. The Frenchman had made his return Friday after a 24-game absence with the same injury and his future is muddled.

Unlike Knox, Ntilikina has needed encouragement to look to score.

“I don’t want him to think about it,’’ Fizdale said. “I want him to just play ball. Whether it’s a good pass or bad shot, a risky pass, I want him to go full steam ahead and not worry about mistakes.”

Themes
ICO