WEST POINT, N.Y. - Kristaps Porzingis was back practicing Saturday and scrimmaging with a unit that included Carmelo Anthony, but Knicks coach Derek Fisher isn't ready to anoint the rookie his starting power forward.
That might be Porzingis' role when the Knicks open the regular season Oct. 28 in Milwaukee, but Fisher isn't handing him a starting job yet.
"It's too early in his career for the coach to say one way or the other what he's going to be," Fisher said after the Knicks broke training camp at the U.S. Military Academy. "We've been practicing for five or six days. He missed a day and a half. So he can't get a stamp of approval just yet in terms of what his role will be. But we drafted him No. 4. And I think we like what he is and what he can be.
"I think he's for sure in consideration. But he has to earn the right to be a guy that we can trust and that starts games every single night to start the season."
Porzingis missed the previous two days of contact practice with a sore left knee but returned Saturday and felt no pain.
The 7-3 Porzingis is enjoying having to "fight" with Robin Lopez, Kyle O'Quinn and Kevin Seraphin because it's preparing him for the NBA season. Porzingis, who played professionally overseas, believes he will be ready and be able to prove himself in the NBA.
"I feel confident I'll be able to play at this level," he said. "The season is different. I've got to get used to that. I've got to get adjusted. I'll need some time for sure to prepare myself mentally for the game. I think I'll be ready. It'll just take a little bit of time probably, but I feel I belong here."
Fisher still has some things to sort out with the starting five. The Knicks open the preseason Wednesday against Bauru from Brazil.
Anthony, Lopez, Jose Calderon and Arron Afflalo are likely starters, but Fisher has to decide whether to play small and start Anthony at power forward or go bigger with Porzingis at the position.
If Anthony starts at power forward, Fisher could go with Derrick Williams or Afflalo at small forward, and then go with a different shooting guard.
"We'll have to kind of play with that," Fisher said. "Probably a lot of that will depend on what we decide to do with Kristaps. I think Robin will have the best chance to start at center. We'll have to decide kind of what we want to do at the forward position.
"But having the versatility is definitely a good feeling. And regardless of who our opponents are from night to night, I think we have the bodies to match up against teams defensively."
Fisher also said he would prefer to have "an established lineup" and not switch it game to game.
It would be somewhat of a surprise if Porzingis isn't in it.
Knicks legend Willis Reed, who has been sitting with team president Phil Jackson during practice, figures Porzingis will start. It also makes some sense to have him playing alongside Anthony. Porzingis will get more open looks because of all the attention Anthony receives.
Anthony liked that Porzingis said he belongs.
"We picked him, so he's here," Anthony said. "He definitely belongs. I'm glad he feels that way because we feel that way. If we feel that way and he don't feel that way, then it'd be different. It'd be a problem. I'm glad he's realizing that he belongs here."
Notes & quotes: Anthony, 31, believes he'll play at a high level when he gets deeper into his 30s in part because of his February knee surgery. "Of course, man," he said. "Without a doubt. I think now, getting this taken care of, really put me in position to perform at a high level for the next four or five years.'' . . . Afflalo (sore left hamstring) was sidelined for the second straight day. He expects to participate when the Knicks return to practice Monday.