Elfrid Payton’s return to Knicks will have to wait
Frank Ntilikina will not be getting unseated as the Knicks’ starting point guard any time soon.
Not only has the 21-year-old been playing well in nine straight starts since getting his shot, but the starter he replaced is still not close to returning to action.
Elfrid Payton was re-evaluated Tuesday and an ultrasound showed his hamstring strain has not fully healed. He will be re-evaluated in 10 days, the team said, knocking him out at least four more games on top of the 10 straight he has already missed.
“It’s a frustrating process,” coach David Fizdale said. “Like I said at the beginning of this whole thing, those hamstrings are funny. It’s one of those injuries where you just never know how it’s going to turn out. So, he’s gonna get in a positive place though and he’s going to keep working to get back. And we’ll hold down the fort until he does.”
Fizdale said Payton did not suffer any kind of a setback.
In the meantime, Fizdale will keep the starting lineup intact.
“The team is starting to show some consistency,” Fizdale said. “I think guys are starting to feel comfortable in the place they are playing at. Hopefully we can keep building on that.
Ignas Brazdeikis has not yet gotten much of a shot with the Knicks, but the rookie provided a reminder of his potential Monday night with G-League Westchester.
Brazdeikis dropped 36 points on 16-for-28 shooting at the Westchester County Center.
“I haven’t watched it yet, but I can’t wait,” Fizdale said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I heard he balled. I heard he really played well. But that’s where I commend [GM Scott Perry] and his staff — I didn’t know anything about Iggy. I watched very little college basketball and they said if we can get this kid right here, we think we have a player. I got into the film that night and I immediately fell in love with him.”
The Knicks traded up to get the 47th overall pick from the Kings on draft night to select Brazdeikis out of Michigan. The 20-year-old has appeared in only four games for the Knicks, scoring six points in 14 minutes.
“It’s very easy to root for Iggy,” Fizdale said. “He knows how to play, he’s tough as nails, he’s super crafty, he’s like a little mixture of Sarunas [Marciulionis] and Chris Mullin’s game — that slow but tough lefty who just finds his way around the court. He’s just going to keep getting better and better and I think mixing him back-and-forth to the G-League is going to help with his confidence.”
Rookie RJ Barrett sprained his left thumb in Monday’s win over the Cavaliers, but is probable for Wednesday’s game against the 76ers.
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