Since he walked away from the court at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day,” Giannis Antetokounmpo received the kind of ovation that’s normally reserved for the home team.

“This is exactly the reason why New York is really special. The vitality, the atmosphere is great,” Antetokounmpo said after hearing the temptations of the afternoon from the Milwaukee Bucks109-95 Christmas Day win on the New York Knicks. “They are not just cheering their team, they’re cheering basketball.”

Knicks fans haven’t had lots of reasons to market their particular team throughout the last three months. New York has lost 9 of its last 10 and is now in sole possession of their next worst record in the NBA. They seem well on the way to your fifth consecutive 50-plus loss season.

Making things worse, their very best player, allstar big man Kristaps Porzingis, remains sidelined forever while he rehabs an ACL injury. And it remains an open question as to if Porzingis will play at all this season.

Knicks president Steve Mills said earlier that Porzingis had been ‘a ways away’ from returning to the courtroom almost 11 weeks after his ACL tear.

The 7-foot-3 forward recently began working on the court with trainers, dunking and shooting 3s, and he is likely to be re-evaluated in mid-February.

“I’m really so delighted with him under the conditions,” Fizdale explained. “I know it’s killing him to playwith. But he is in there [at the practice facility] every day rooting these guys on.”

Much of that direction does occur throughout practices and film sessions.

Knicks second-year big Luke Kornet describes Porzingis’ input signal as”honestly, significantly more than you might expect” in these settings.

Rookie center Mitchell Robinson said Porzingis helped him to comprehend the proper angle to screen onto the pick-and-roll and the best time to call one out on shield. Enes Kanter said Porzingis telephoned him in to a modern huddle when he had been disengaged during a recent Knicks loss.

While Porzingis’ leadership is equally invaluable for this young Knicks team, fans at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day could have preferred he had been on the courtroom. But they ought to probably become comfortable with the strong possibility he will not play in 2013.

“We’d love to see him play, but we also admit he could be just a very, very significant part the longterm near future with this franchise,” Mills said . “And the 1 thing we’re not likely to do is simply take some actual risk using a 23-year-old player in his position.”

For what it’s worth, a group of a dozen executives, scouts and agents reached earlier this week voiced doubt that Porzingis would see the court in 2018-19. “Why could he keep coming back?” One executive said.

The rationale often cited as an answer to this question is Porzingis can show potential free agents he could be healthy. A broker for a prominent 2019 absolutely free agent doesn’t feel that’s needed. “These guys understand what he can do,” the agent said.

Naturally, Porzingis’ own future in ny is surrounded with a level of uncertainty. The Knicks declined to expand his rookie contract before the growing season therefore he is going to be a restricted free agent this summer. The smart money says the Knicks and Porzingis hit an agreement that summer, however it’s absurd to find that trade as a sure thing.

Knicks GM Scott Perry said earlier in 2013 of Porzingis and also his representation,”they wish to win… as do we all. I believe we want to find a Knicks roster that’s going to become highly competitive for the long term.”

Nyc, clearly, will have the tools to enhance the roster this summer and start to build a sustained winner. The Knicks will likely have a high choice in June’s draft and may create enough cap space for a max free broker.

If this happens, perhaps Porzingis and his teammates — and not a visiting player — can get the loudest ovations from the Garden crowd next Christmas Day.

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