Kristaps Porzingis is now the center of the Knicks’ universe, a blossoming star around whom everything will revolve now that Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson are no longer around.
With that comes lofty expectations, and though the 22-year-old big man entering his third NBA season says he doesn’t feel any difference as of yet, he’s savvy enough to know what comes with the peaks and valleys in this town.
“Obviously when it’s going great, then you can be the God, and when it’s going bad they want to kill you,” Porzingis said Sunday after the Knicks’ open practice at the Garden. “There are gonna be some tough moments, I’m sure about that, but just got to be strong mentally here in New York and it’ll be fine.”
During an on-court interview Sunday conducted by Knicks broadcaster Alan Hahn, new Knicks general manager Scott Perry would not go as far as saying the franchise is now on Porzingis’ shoulders.
“I’d never want to put that much pressure on one individual,” Perry said. “He’s part of this team. Obviously he’s an important part of this team. We’re excited about him entering his third year to watch his growth and development.”
Porzingis is team-oriented but hasn’t shied away from becoming the main man.
“It’s something that I wanted one day to be like that, and I just kept working toward that and kept getting better,” he said. “I’m gonna keep doing that, keep going as a player, and that way hopefully year by year we can go as a team also.”
Porzingis said the physiotherapist he worked with over the summer and with whom he’s work in Seville, Manolo Valdivieso, is coming stateside to continue to help him out throughout the season. “He’ll be wherever I am,” Porzingis said.
As for why, Porzingis added, “He knows me the best. He knows my body the best and I worked with him when I was 17, 18 years old. If I can miss fewer games or play a few more games, then it’s worth it.”
The 7-foot-3 Latvian played in 66 games last year after appearing in 72 contests as a rookie.