New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee will make his season debut Saturday when the Milwaukee Bucks visit Madison Square Garden.
Head coach David Fizdale said Lee was "probable" for the matchup with the Bucks after returning to practice just about a week ago. The guard, who is in his 10th year in the league, has missed the first 23 games of the 2018-2019 season due to a persistent neck injury.
"One thing I know is we definitely don't have veterans, so having a veteran in the mix now, especially since we haven't had Lance [Thomas], we just really miss that presence," Fizdale said Friday after practice. "So I've just got to figure out how I'm going to work him into the rotation."
Courtney Lee and Mitchell Robinson are active and available to play tonight.- NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) December 1, 2018
A little dose of defense and a splash of shooting prowess could be just what the doctor ordered to help soothe the struggles of a team mired in its second losing streak in as many weeks. A three-game winning streak feels like a distant memory after losses on the road to Detroit and Philadelphia.
Flip the calendar back a few more days and the Knicks find themselves in the midst of a 3-7 record over their last 10 contests. The team's record sits at 7-16 entering Saturday's game.
"I don't think [Courtney is] a tough guy to mix in," Fizdale said. "I think he's a good piece to plug in with whoever's out there."
Lee has suited up nearly every night for the Knickerbockers over the last two seasons (playing in 77 games in 2016-17 and 76 games in 2017-18), but hasn't been able to crack the lineup quite yet in his third year with the Knicks. Lee averaged 12 points a game a year ago and was one of the better Knicks from downtown (shooting 40.6 percent from distance in 2017-2018).
The timing may be just right for Lee's return with one of the league's top offensive teams coming into town, not to mention one of the NBA's toughest covers in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
"I might have some secrets for old Budenholzer over there," Fizdale said with a smile, referring to Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer.
Antetokounmpo is averaging just over 27 points as ballgame heading into Saturday's matchup to go along with nearly 13 rebounds and six assists. He has tallied more than 20 points in all but two games this year, his fifth season in the league.
With Kristaps Porzingis still sidelined, the Knicks are hoping some other contributors can step up to handle the load. There has been a different leading scorer for the Knicks in each of the team's last five games. Tim Hardaway Jr. leads the team in scoring at 22.2 points a night.