Good Evening
Good Evening

Carmelo Anthony bullish on Kristaps Porzingis' attitude, game

The New York Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis poses during

The New York Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis poses during media day at the Madison Square Garden Training Center on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Carmelo Anthony said he didn't know anything about Kristaps Porzingis when the Knicks drafted him and immediately had to YouTube some highlights of him.

But Anthony has gotten to know Porzingis over the last few weeks and has been impressed with the 20-year-old Latvian big man's demeanor.

"During the summertime, I saw that he seemed very comfortable," Anthony said after the Knicks' first practice of training camp Tuesday at the U.S. Military Academy. "Today he seemed comfortable. It doesn't seem like he's timid. It doesn't seem like he's worried about anything out there. He's just practicing out there and playing.

"For an 18-, 19-year-old guy to come into the NBA and not feel any pressure . . . I don't know what he feels on the inside, but from what I see, he don't feel any pressure, it looks like he's handling things pretty well. We just got to keep that going."

Anthony has promised to be "a big brother" and "wall" for Porzingis. But he said he didn't have to get in Porzingis' ear at the first practice. The Knicks did contact drills, shooting and running. Anthony, who is returning from left knee surgery, practiced in full and said he felt good.

The Knicks took the 7-3 Porzingis with the No. 4 pick in the draft. Anthony said he did his homework on some of the other top prospects but didn't know anything about Porzingis until someone from the Knicks called to tell him they were taking him.

Porzingis has proved to be an intriguing prospect because of his size, skills and overall attitude. Anthony said he watched the Knicks' summer league games to see how Porzingis handled himself.

"Honestly, that's where I wanted to see him compete at," Anthony said. "It wasn't about him going out there scoring 15, 20 points. It was more his toughness, his heart, kind of how he's going to react to the physical play in the NBA. In the summer league, everybody's trying to make a name, so it was a perfect time for him to go on that stage and prove something."

Then the two had some individual workouts and played one-on-one earlier this month, and Anthony said he purposely pushed Porzingis around to see how he would respond.

"I tried to," Anthony said. "He's 7-3. I was fouling the [expletive] out of him a little bit but he's 7-3, legit."

Anthony and the rest of the Knicks are withholding judgment on Porzingis until they see him play against other NBA players.

Porzingis will play mostly power forward. Depending on how he develops, he could start alongside Anthony. He's listed at 233 pounds, although he says he's gained some weight since July. "You can feel a difference," Porzingis said. "I was real light during summer league. I can tell that I'm a little heavier. I'm still light for these heavyweights. But I'm getting there. I'm getting stronger, so that's a positive."

Notes & quotes: Team president Phil Jackson, who said he would be more hands on and involved for Derek Fisher, watched practice from the sideline. "He was here," Fisher said. "He doesn't coach the team, I coach the team. So he wasn't involved." . . . Fisher said he feels more comfortable running his second training camp. He also said he will talk less to the players this season because he doesn't want guys to feel they're being "over-taught." Fisher hopes to create "an environment" filled with "passion" and "enthusiasm." . . Knicks legend Willis Reed attended practice.

New York Sports