GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- As the Knicks began Day One of life without Kristaps Porzingis on Wednesday, they have no timeline on when the 7-foot-3 unicorn might return to the court and no announcement on how they'll handle his contract situation moving forward.
ACL recoveries typically take 6-to-9 months, but the Knicks could be without Porzingis for up to a year after he went down during Tuesday's loss to Milwaukee.
"I'd hate to put a timetable on that because every player, every person's a little different in how they come back and respond," Knicks GM Scott Perry said. "I know he will attack in it an aggressive manner but we want to make sure that he is fully healthy before we put him back on the court. So would not want to put a definite timetable on it."
No date has been announced for surgery but Perry expects it to happen "sooner than later." The Knicks are 23-32 and five games back of the No. 8 seed in the East. They must now play out the string without Porzingis -- and reserve center Willy Hernangomez, who was traded to Charlotte for two second-round picks.
"It's definitely a tough blow," said wing Courtney Lee, himself the subject of trade rumors. "KP, he was averaging like 23 or 24 points for us. He did a lot for us rebounding or blocking shots, being that guy for us that opened up the floor like everybody else. So today's mood was just, what are we going to do without KP now? It's really sinking in. We ran some different sets, we worked on spacing and just playing with different lineups out there. That's what you've got to do going forward, man, everybody's got to step up and do what they were doing just a little bit better."
Perry and the Knicks' brass were with Porzingis Wednesday night following the injury and said it was an emotional moment for all involved.
"We were with him last night and obviously it was a difficult situation for everyone, especially him," Perry said. "A young man who put so much into the season to improve himself as a player, which I think we all would agree he had done that. Getting ready to go to the All-Star Game, so obviously it was a difficult blow for him personally and for this organization.
"But we're going to stick together, we're going to support this young man throughout the entire process. And we know that he's going to attack his rehab and post-surgery in the way that he prepares himself as a player. And we're going to be here to support him every step of the way."
Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek added that both Porzingis and the team were "devastated" by the injury.
"Obviously he was devastated that he has that injury," Hornacek said. "So are we. It's a tough thing to have happen, and he's had such a great year, and we were trying to grow with him. But I guess part of sports is things that when they happen -- he'll be back as strong as ever. We know he's a hard worker. We know that he wants to become a great player, a top player in this league."
As they play out the string and rebuild sans Porzingis, the Knicks plan to play younger guys like Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina more, while giving a shot to G League guys Isaiah Hicks and Luke Kornet.
"Other guys are going to have opportunities to get out there and show us their improvement and maybe new guys from our G League team will come up and have some time," Hornacek said. "So we got to keep moving forward and continue to try to make this team better. "
Whenever Porzingis returns, the Knicks expect him to come back at full strength.
"I'm no doctor but I think the ACL surgeries we've seen a lot in professional sports now have gotten better and better," Perry said. "We've got tremendous confidence in our medical group here that he's going to make more than a full recovery. So whenever that time is that he's back on the court, we expect him to be back at full strength and better than ever. And that was our message to him and that was his message to us. So I think he's entering this thing with the right mentality."
Porzingis is eligible for a five-year contract extension worth $157 million beginning this summer, and they could opt to structure it the way the Philadelphia 76ers structured Joel Embiid's deal, which included provisions that would allow the 76ers to cut Embiid and save money if he misses significant time due to injuries.
Perry said they hadn't thought that far just yet.
"We hadn't talked about that prior to this injury and we won't get into that now about him," he said. "He is obviously a very important member of this basketball team and this organization and part of this New York community. And we'll deal with at that appropriate time."