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Porzingis won't return to Knicks before mid-February

FILE PHOTO: Sep 24, 2018; New York Knicks forward/center Kristaps Porzingis (6) addresses the media at Knicks Media Day, Greenburgh, NY, USA; [CAPTION] at MSG training facility. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports - 11309491

Kristaps Porzingis will not return from his torn ACL before mid-February 2019, New York Knicks president Steve Mills said Friday. But beyond that, Mills can’t predict when -- or if -- the star forward will return this season.

The team also issued a statement Friday updating the condition of Porzingis, who tore his left ACL in February. The statement said Porzingis’ progress recently was assessed by team medical staff and he was on target with his healing and rehabilitation. “Once he reaches the remaining rehab benchmarks, he will advance to on-court team drills and activities,” the statement read.

Mills told reporters that he wouldn’t put a timetable on his return.

“I don’t know. I won’t know until after we do these next round of testing. I’m saying we won’t know when he will play until we do the next set of testing, which is in mid-February.”

Still, Mills said the Knicks “would like (Porzingis) to play” this season but he didn’t make any guarantees. Porzingis is taking part in 45-minute sessions on the court with coaches, Mills said.

But at 9-24, New York is 6 1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. And if the Knicks don’t go on a run over the next two months, there won’t be a reason to rush him back into action.

“I think we would like him to play and hope that he plays as soon as he’s comfortable playing,” Mills said. “We’d like him to get on the court, we’d love to see him play, but we also acknowledge that he is a really, really important part of the long-term future of this franchise. And the one thing we’re not going to do is take any real risk with a (23)-year-old player in his position.”

Porzingis underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL on Feb. 13 and initially was expected to be out for at least 10 months. He was averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and an NBA-best 2.4 blocks per game at the time of his injury, earning his first career All-Star selection in his third season.

--Field Level Media