Mindaugas Kuzminskas is fully aware that he might not be a New York Knick by Sunday afternoon, that Joakim Noah’s return from a PED suspension might mean he will get traded or waived after playing only two minutes in the first 11 games. And frankly, he doesn’t seem all that happy about it.
“I think the next three years are going to be the best of my career, I hope, because I’ve never felt so good — physically, mentally,” Kuzminskas said before Saturday night’s game against the Kings.
“If it is possible to play here, I would be more than happy. I think to play here, to win here is a great feeling, especially this year, when we’re playing pretty good, winning more games, the atmosphere in the gym is great and everything. If it is possible for me to play here, of course I would like to stay, and if not, I would just like to play.”
Kuzminskas’ NBA career path has hit a speed bump. A pleasant surprise in his rookie year, the Lithuanian has become an afterthought for the rebuilding Knicks. His short playing time came against the Magic on Wednesday.
One of his biggest supporters — former team president Phil Jackson — is long gone. Now Noah’s return means the Knicks have one player too many and will have to make a move by 5 p.m. Sunday. According to a source, Kuzminskas will be the roster move, although it was unclear whether he will be traded or waived.
“I think a lot of things happened this summer, you know, a lot of things changed,” Kuzminskas said. “And it’s obvious that last year’s team wasn’t that good, so you’ve got to change something . . . [And when] a person like [Jackson] is a fan of yours, it’s awesome, but you know, like I said, I was happy when he was here last year. He gave me a lot of advice. Just seeing him last year, the practices, it gives extra motivation. This year, he’s gone. This year we have other guys who are great too in our front office.”
There are other options aside from Kuzminskas. With Noah’s return from a 20-game suspension, the Knicks will have a surplus of big men between Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn, Willy Hernangomez and Noah. Point guard Ramon Sessions has played in only one game since starting the first three, although he has mentored 19-year-old Frank Ntilikina and offers depth at the position.