Kristaps Porzingis said a “big part” of what his brother said to a Latvian monthly magazine was taken out of context. He also said fans shouldn’t worry about him leaving when his contract is up.
“I’m here in New York, I love New York and I see myself as a Knick for a long, long time,” Porzingis said Friday. “I think they shouldn’t be worrying about that.”
Porzingis granted a rare pregame interview to discuss comments by his brother and agent, Janis Porzingis, that created a major stir Thursday.
Janis told the sports magazine Sporta Avize that his brother’s decision to skip his exit interview with team president Phil Jackson in April was orchestrated in an effort to get the franchise to make changes and because Carmelo Anthony wasn’t doing anything to shake things up. Jackson ultimately was fired in June.
In the interview that was translated on Eurobasket.net, Janis also indicated that Kristaps isn’t in a hurry to negotiate a new contract with the Knicks.
Kristaps didn’t necessarily dispute anything his brother said in the magazine, but he hinted that some of it was lost in translation, including what was said about his future.
“Everybody understands it differently,” Porzingis said. “We’re on the same page. They shouldn’t be worried about that.”
In the summer of 2018, Porzingis is eligible to sign a five-year extension for more than $150 million. If he doesn’t ink a long-term deal, he likely will play his fifth NBA season with the Knicks on a $7.5-million qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
But Porzingis said during the season and before a game is not the time to talk about these subjects.
“I thought the article and everything was taken out of context,” he said. “A big part. But it is what it is. He made those comments, and right now I really want to focus on the game, really. Just during the season, I don’t think this is the right time to talk about things like that.”
When Porzingis was asked what specifically was taken out of context, he said there was much more to the interview.
“I think the main interview was much longer,” he said. “It was just a few things that were taken out, I think. But yeah, it is what it is. Janis made those comments and I just want to focus right now on playing.”
Porzingis, who scored 37 points in the Knicks’ 120-107 victory over the Suns on Friday night at Madison Square Garden, has scored at least 30 points in six of the Knicks’ first eight games and is averaging 29.0 points per game. He’s replaced Anthony as the Knicks’ franchise player and has made the transition smoothly.
Just before Jackson was let go, he said he was listening to trade offers for Porzingis. But new Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry have said they’re building around him.
When Porzingis blew off the exit interview, sources at the time said it was over frustration about the direction of the franchise. Porzingis, who spent the entire offseason overseas, said he’s happy about how things have gone since he returned in September.
“Yeah,” he said. “I’ve been really just trying to focus on playing basketball, being who I am and not bringing all that stuff from last year or just drama in general into this. I think that’s an important thing for me going forward also — just having that mindset of doing what I need to do on the court and that’s it.”
The last thing the Knicks need this season is a major distraction. Porzingis tried to defuse the situation that Janis’ interview created by saying his focus is on this season and not the future.
“That’s my brother and my agent; whatever comments he makes or whatever, it is what it is,” Porzingis said. “I think we’ll get to that later. We’ll talk about that more later. Now, before a game, I don’t think is the right moment. At the end of the season, that would be the right moment for those kind of things.”