It was fun while it lasted, but the impending return of Tim Hardaway Jr. may symbolize the end of Michael Beasley Time.
For the first time in 20 games, Hardaway Jr. was upgraded from out to questionable for Friday night’s game against the Timberwolves. And once Hardaway Jr. returns and is 100 percent, coach Jeff Hornacek indicated that the rotation will revert to its previous incarnation — meaning the possibility of DNPs for Beasley.
“Every one of (our bench players) lends us something and it could be situational,” Hornacek said. “Lance (Thomas) has done a great job defending some of these guys. Prior to when Tim was here, there were nights when Lance didn’t play. There were nights Mike didn’t play. So we’ll probably end up going back to that.”
With Hardaway Jr.’s stress injury sidelining him for the last six weeks, Beasley has emerged as the secondary — and sometimes primary — scoring option alongside Kristaps Porzingis.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is nearing a return to the lineup.
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
He has averaged 16.6 points since the injury, scoring 20 or more in eight different games. Conversely, he racked up six DNPs and was often an afterthought with Hardaway Jr. in the lineup.
Hardaway Jr. scrimmaged again fullcourt at practice Thursday and will be evaluated again to determine his status for Minnesota.
Whether or not he’s in the starting lineup will depend on his fitness after such a long time off. Hornacek was noncommittal on both Hardaway Jr.’s status and whether he’ll start after returning.
(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
“If he’s at full condition, we’ll go back that way. If we’re going to try to continue to build him up and then maybe we’ll have to bring him off the bench,” Hornacek said. “But again, we’ll talk to him and see how he’s feeling with the conditioning, when he can play. If he plays a week from now and gets in great condition in practice maybe he starts. If he says he can play tomorrow then it’ll probably be off the bench until he gets in great shape.”
The Knicks (19-22) are 8-12 without Hardaway Jr., with eight losses in their last 10 games. Although Beasley has thrived offensively in one-on-one situations, it’s proven difficult to play both him and Porzingis together. They are not distributors and simply just take turns. Hornacek likes the partnership in theory — “It’s good to have those two scorers that one time you can go to Mike and next time go to KP.”
But Porzingis played a lot better while benefitting from the open looks created by Hardaway Jr.’s pace.