NEW YORK — An already up-and-down season for the New York Knicks took an ominous turn on Saturday evening before they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 91-75, at Madison Square Garden.
With second-year point guard Jeremy Lin having missed the previous three games entering Saturday with what the team had been terming a sore left knee, the Knicks announced Lin will have arthroscopic surgery early next week to repair a slightly torn meniscus in his left knee.
The Knicks are already without Amar’e Stoudemire for 2-4 weeks as he deals with a bulging disk in his back.
Lin confirmed he received “three or four opinions” before making the decision to have surgery, including one from his doctor in his home state of California. All the doctors Lin spoke with concurred on the diagnosis.
The timetable for Lin’s return is being set at six weeks, which is not good news. There is less than a month to go in the regular season and a Lin return would likely coincide with the Knicks advancing past the first round of the playoffs for the first time 2000. In short, the Taiwanese point guard who came out of nowhere to become a worldwide phenomenon is likely done for the season.
Lin first injured his left knee early in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons on March 24. Addressing the media during pregame availability, Lin said he had an MRI on Monday, which revealed the torn meniscus. The plan was to rehab and give the knee 5-7 days to see how it responds before deciding if he could play with the injury for the remainder of the season.
“I knew I was going to have to have surgery at some point, whether it was now or after the season,” a somber Lin said. “Me and the trainers and the medical staff did a lot of rehab pretty much all day, on the plane, during games, in the morning and at night. We did everything we could.”
Lin, who was averaging 14.6 points and 6.1 assists per game, had not spoken about the injury or anything else all week, even avoiding the media in Atlanta on Friday in an effort to avoid the topic completely.
The decision was made Saturday morning, the one-week mark of the injury, after he tried to test it out, but couldn’t cut or jump well enough to avoid surgery at this time. Lin said he has never had surgery on either knee.
“It’s a six-week rehab process, but I tend to heal fast so hopefully I can come back as soon as possible and help the team,” Lin said.
The swelling in Lin’s knee right after the injury went down around the middle of the week, which left him and the training staff optimistic that he would be able to play through it. The swelling might have come down, but the knee never felt better. Testing it out on Friday and Saturday yielded no good news and here we are.
Without speaking with Glen Grunwald or James Dolan yet, Knicks interim head coach Mike Woodson didn’t expect the Knicks to try and go out and find another point guard to replace Lin.
Baron Davis will get the lion’s share of minutes, while Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby will give him blows off the bench when needed.
As for Lin’s impending free agency coming off his coming out party this winter, he doesn’t seem to be worried about it in the least.
“I’m not even worried about that right now,” Lin said. “It’s not like a career-ending thing or something that will bother me. Once it’s fixed, it’s fixed. I’m more concerned with this season.”
Photo: Daily News
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.