Though the Knicks have yet to set a definitive timetable for Kristaps Porzingis' return, the 23-year-old forward has impressed new head coach David Fizdale with how he's tried to help younger players in practice.
"He's been awesome to have in the gym," Fizdale said Monday. "It's like having another coach. The film sessions, he speaks up as much as any coach on our staff, and what he says is exactly what we need said."
Porzingis, who is entering his fourth season since being the No. 4 pick in 2015, will play under his fourth coach in as many years.
When he joined the Knicks, Derek Fisher was head coach. He was fired midway through the 2015-16 season for Kurt Rambis, and Jeff Hornacek had coached the past two years.
The Knicks, who open the season Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks, have been cautious with Porzingis's return from a torn ACL he suffered last winter. Porzingis, himself, has said, "I have to be smart" in his rehab. He has recently started shooting and light running but has yet to be medically cleared.
In the meantime, Fizdale has seen a lot of promise in Porzingis's ability to lead a young team, especially in practice and in the locker room.
"He asks great questions. Certain other guys are shy about asking questions, so KP will ask a question just to take the pressure off the guy," Fizdale said. "That's the part I've been paying attention to, how he's been leading, how he's been engaging. ... I just see a teammate out there. I see a guy that's trying to contribute any way he can."
The Knicks did not reach an agreement with Porzingis on a rookie extension by Monday's deadline, which makes him a restricted free agent next summer. Porzingis said last month he was not focused on a contract and was instead putting his attention to readying himself for the season and trying to get healthy.
He averaged 22.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in 48 games before he suffered the season-ending injury on Feb. 6. In his three-year career, Porzingis has averaged 17.8 points and 7.1 rebounds in 186 games.