NBA Teams
Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer 5d

David Fizdale, Kristaps Porzingis clear air after misunderstanding

NBA, New York Knicks

New York KnicksĀ coach David Fizdale said on Friday that he wasn't aware that Kristaps Porzingis had been sprinting as part of his rehab from last season's ACL surgery, after Fizdale's comments the day before led to a misunderstanding that left Porzingis frustrated over the perception of his recovery.

On Thursday, Fizdale said that the All-Star big man hadn't begun sprinting and that he hadn't made significant progress since the start of training camp. Once the coach's comments were reported in the media, Porzingis took to Instagram, posting two pictures of himself sprinting on an outdoor track.

Fizdale said he discussed the issue with Porzingis on Friday morning at the team practice facility and that player and coach are now on the same page.

"We had a great talk about it. He's working his tail off," Fizdale said. "I think how he took (media reports of Fizdale's comments on Thursday) was that people thought he wasn't busting his hump, he took it personally. It got to him that people would think that.

"I think maybe when he heard me say, 'Hey we're taking it slow' and all of that stuff -- that's what we're doing -- but at the same time he (doesn't) want people thinking that he's not busting his hump because he's killing it," the coach added.

Fizdale said that when he spoke to the media on Thursday, he didn't know that Porzingis had started sprinting, because Fizdale had been focused on coaching the players on the court and because the 23-year-old hadn't done any sprinting in the practice facility.

"But I was happy as hell to see that stride, I know that," Fizdale said. "I might go out with him next time and do some power walking because that got me out of the bed when I saw that."

Porzingis has his own physiotherapist spearheading his rehab and has worked out in and out of the practice facility. Fizdale said that the Knicks trainers were aware that Porzingis had been running and recommended places for Porzingis to sprint.

"I'm the only doofus that didn't know he had went out to the track," the coach said. "....My big thing is, I'm just happy when I get him back. I'm not as much on the day-to-day updates. I'm not into that. When I get him back, I'm going to be happy as heck. But otherwise, I'm really locked into (the Knicks currently available to play)."

Porzingis underwent surgery to repair an ACL tear in his left knee in mid-February. The Knicks do not have a specific timetable for his return. Before the start of training camp, Porzingis said he was pleased with how his rehab had progressed. Fizdale has said that he hasn't allowed himself to consider when Porzingis might return.

The Knicks declined to sign Porzingis to a rookie extension prior to last month's deadline -- a move that will give New York an extra $10 million in cap space in the summer of 2019 and will make Porzingis a restricted free agent in the offseason.

Fizdale on Friday said that he's in a "good place" with Porzingis after they spoke in the morning.

"We're fine. KP is great.... He was in here (during Friday's practice) running around with the guys, yelling at them, getting on them about timing and rhythm and defense," the coach said.

Fizdale, who is in his first season as Knicks coach, added that he planned to handle any controversies such as this one directly and in-person.

"With this group of people that we got here right now, our agendas are on point. Everybody's coming from a good place. So why let things linger?" he said. "That's how stuff ends up festering into a real problem. It's all usually some miscommunication or a misunderstanding and something you could've hashed out as an adult right there. So I stress that to all of these guys, handle stuff face to face. Eye-to-eye communication. Get it over with."

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