GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Kristaps Porzingis said he wasn’t too concerned about his future on draft night despite the fact that former Knicks president Phil Jackson was listening to trade offers for him.
“I was asleep,” Porzingis said after practice Friday.
At the time, Porzingis was in Latvia, which is seven hours ahead of Eastern time. He said he “tried not to focus on it” and didn’t worry about waking up to news that he was being sent to another team.
“It could have happened any day before that, also,” he said. “I tried to get my rest and be ready for the next day’s workout. I wasn’t trying to worry about things I can’t affect.”
It’s likely, however, that Porzingis skipping his exit meeting with Jackson and other team officials effectively led to the Knicks’ front office entertaining calls for him. But Jackson is gone, Porzingis is back, and he’s the new focal point and face of the franchise.
Porzingis also was back on the court Friday after leaving Thursday’s practice early with a sore right knee. Porzingis said he felt better and he went through all of Friday’s non-contact morning practice. He also was expected to scrimmage and do all the contact work in the night sessions.
“Just bumped knees and just to be cautious, they pulled me out the last 15 minutes of the practice,” Porzingis said. “But today, I felt good. It’s already getting better. Just a bruised knee.”
Jeff Hornacek called it “a relief,” but he didn’t seem overly concerned after it happened. He said he thought Porzingis would return to practice Friday.
The Knicks will be cautious with Porzingis after he had a busy offseason of competitive basketball for Latvia in the European Championships. With Carmelo Anthony on the Thunder now, the Knicks are building around Porzingis. He’s missed 26 games over his first two seasons, so injuries have been an issue.
Hornacek said he’s tried to pull Porzingis out of some things early in training camp to give him a breather and try to protect him for the long haul.
“He’s telling me to sub in a little time, sub out a little more times,” Porzingis said. “Kind of rest a little more during the practice. But it’s hard. You have adrenaline going on and you want to play, you want to scrimmage and be out there with the guys, going through plays and doing stuff.
“So it’s more them telling me to sit down for a little bit and then come back in that way. But I just want to keep going.”
After Jackson said he was listening to offers for Porzingis, the 7-3 forward posted a picture on Instagram of himself with an incredulous look and the letters “fr,” which was perceived to mean “For real?” But Porzingis denied it was in reaction to Jackson.
“That picture was random,” he said. “It was random. It had nothing to do with it really. But I tried not to worry about it too much.”
Porzingis wants to move on from all the controversial things that happened since last season ended. He arrived in New York last weekend and said he didn’t have to clear the air with the Knicks after blowing off his exit interview.
“We left it in the past,” Porzingis said. “A lot of new people are here now. We just left it in the past. There’s nothing that we need to bring back up and talk about. What happened happened, and we’re moving forward.”
Porzingis also distanced himself from another controversy. His brother Janis works for NBA agent Andy Miller and ASM Management, which is being investigated in the FBI’s probe into fraud and bribery in college basketball.
“Honestly, I’m not informed enough to talk about it,” Porzingis said. “I’m not sure what’s going on really and same situation, similar situation right now, I want to focus on the training camp. However it comes out, we’ll go from there.”
After Jackson was let go, Hornacek said associate head coach Kurt Rambis asked him if he still wanted him on the staff. Rambis was brought in by Jackson and is close friends with him. But Hornacek played with Rambis in Phoenix and wanted him to stay.
“He was saying, ‘If you don’t think it will work, then hey, I understand that,’ ” Hornacek said. “But I knew Kurt from the past and I knew how he played and I played with him for a couple of years and I know his knowledge of the game is great. So I was happy to keep him on.”