Elfrid Payton about to shake up Knicks’ point-guard situation

MILWAUKEE — While two-way G-League point guard, Kadeem Allen was flown into town as an emergency addition Monday night with Frank Ntilikina sidelined, Elfrid Payton was on the verge of shaking up the point-guard situation.

Before the Knicks faced the Bucks at Fiserv Forum, Payton said he will be cleared to practice fully by Wednesday.

That means Payton, who was limited at practice over the weekend, could make his return from a hamstring strain on Thursday, when the Knicks host Denver.

Signed as a free agent, Payton hasn’t played since the season’s fourth game, missing his 17th straight game Monday.

“It feels good that I’m close,’’ Payton said. “I got some contact and compete with my teammates. That part feels good.’’

The former Magic point guard said he has had a hamstring injury before, but never like this one.

“I had no clue — no clue,’’ Payton said. “I thought it would be way shorter than this. It’s been super tough. I’m not somebody who gets hurt and misses a lot of games. It’s been tough to not be out there to compete with my teammates.”

Payton, who was the starting point guard when he went down, will join the Ntilikina-Dennis Smith Jr. tandem. Ntilikina injured his upper back in the first quarter Sunday versus the Celtics and missed Monday’s game. He is expected to return Thursday.

Smith played a season-high 37 minutes against Boston and said he’s back to being in regular condition after his family leave.

“I think I’m capable of playing those minutes for sure,’’ Smith said.

With the team having lost six straight as play began Monday, Fizdale will to have to sort out the point-guard minutes again very soon.

“For sure, it will be good,’’ Payton said. “It will give us some more depth. It was something I was excited about [when I signed]. We can throw waves of players at teams. I think we’re a deep team. and I’m looking forward to it.”


Fizdale and Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer were linked to the same Knicks’ job two years ago. Fizdale got the job.

What wasn’t previously known is Budenholzer and Fizdale have been friends for 25 years. They both are from California and were basketball camp counselors/roommates for a couple of years at the University of Santa Barbara — now UC Santa Barbara — in their early 20’s.

Fizdale also went for Budenholzer’s job when he left Atlanta. Fizdale, according to a source, turned down the job.

“We all laugh about it,’’ Fizdale said. “We all know it’s a fluctuating thing. I was even talking to him because I was being interviewed by Atlanta. I asked him: what do you think about Atlanta? Tell me what you went through? We’ve all learned on each other in different ways.”

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