Today, Kristaps Porzingis is the jewel of the Knicks’ franchise. The 23-year-old power forward-center established himself as a first-time All-Star last season, his third in the NBA, before tearing the ACL in his left knee last February. In 48 games he averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.

Although Porzingis hasn’t yet reached the level of production and impact as some of his under-25 peers playing the same positions, notably Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns, he has proved to be an essential cornerstone of a franchise in desperate need of capable young players.

This season will be another in the Knicks’ rebuilding process. They are likely to have a similar record as a season ago, when they finished 31-51. But their lowly standing yielded the No. 9 and No. 36 picks, which team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry prudently used to select forward Kevin Knox and 7-foot center Mitchell Robinson, respectively.

If both—the 6-foot-9 Knox is only 19 and Robinson is 20—reach the potential they exhibited in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas in July over the next two to three years, they could be ideal franchise-altering running mates for Porzingis in the frontcourt.

The reconstruction of the Knicks must be carried out with all deliberate speed, beginning with the methodical process of getting Porzingis physically whole again. If he’s out for the entire 2018-19 season, so be it. With him, the Knicks would still be hard pressed to be one of the top eight seeds in the Eastern Conference and a playoff team. The native of Latvia is eligible to sign a five-year, $157 million extension next summer. So there is a mutual benefit to him and the Knicks for a cautious and complete recovery.

“We’ve done things differently because there is no protocol for a 7-foot-3 guy,” said Porzingis at the Knicks’ media day this past Monday. “There is no timetable for my type of body, my size and all that. So we’ve done things differently. We’ve been really conservative, and at the same time I’ve been killing myself working. So we’re just going to have to keep moving forward and keep progressing, and then see when is the right time for me to be back.”

Porzingis conducted most of his rehab in Spain but will now be under the watchful eyes of the Knicks’ medical and training staffs. New Knicks head coach Dave Fizdale visited Porzingis this past summer overseas.

“I believe that he’s that type of person that wants to get the maximum out of each player around him,” Porzingis said of Fizdale. “Me and him, we can work together really well.”