ORLANDO, Fla. — Kristaps Porzingis was supposed to be at the dinner meeting with Joakim Noah on Friday night, but travel delays prevented that from happening.
Porzingis eventually made it here, and he can’t wait to meet and play with Noah and his other new teammate, Derrick Rose.
“I’m happy,” Porzingis said. “I think those are really good additions to our team and they will help us win games for sure. I’m excited to meet the guys and start working out with them. Honestly, I can’t wait for the season to start. I can’t wait to get back on the court, especially now that we have new additions and we’re going to be better as a team. I’m really looking forward to the season.”
The Knicks acquired Rose in a trade with the Bulls 10 days ago and reached an agreement with Noah on a four-year, $72- million deal after Friday’s steak dinner at a Disney area resort.
Porzingis said he sat on a plane at JFK for eight hours and called it “the worst day of my life traveling-wise.” He arrived around midnight and is here to be with the Knicks’ coaches and the summer league team.
Porzingis won’t practice or play with them, but he will work out individually. It was the first time he met his new coach, Jeff Hornacek. They had texted previously. “I see him right there,” Porzingis said. “I’m kind of nervous.”
Hornacek and Porzingis then talked face-to-face and sat together during the Knicks’ 81-49 loss to the Pistons.
Porzingis had a great rookie season, but he said it felt incomplete because the Knicks didn’t make the playoffs.
“I’m young, but we don’t have 10 years to win a championship,” Porzingis said. “We got to win soon. So that’s my mindset as well. I know those guys want to win right away. They’ve been in the league for a long time. So all I got to do is stay as mentally focused as I can to help those guys win. That’s the No. 1 goal. I’m not here to have five seasons of just trying to win.”
Porzingis really enjoyed playing with Robin Lopez, who was sent to the Bulls in the Rose deal, but he thinks he can have “a special connection” with Noah.
“He’s a great passer, high-energy guy,” Porzingis said. “I love playing with guys like that who get on other team’s nerves maybe sometimes. He’s that type of guy. Me and him can have a really special connection.”
Porzingis believes the Knicks’ offense was “too static” last season, and he is looking forward to playing a little more uptempo under Hornacek. He also said the aggressive, attacking Rose will greatly improve the Knicks’ offense.
“Knowing the level of player Derrick Rose is, I’m sure he’s going to help us at the guard position,” Porzingis said. “I love his game, how explosive he is, how quick he is and how he runs in transition. That’s going to help us play faster and not just be static all the time. I think he’s going to help us win.
“I think we played a little too static. And that’s why it’s great we have a guy like D-Rose who has the ability to push the ball and we got to keep up with him. We have to run the floor. It’s going to be a lot of easy buckets for me if I run the fast break and he’s pushing the ball. He can throw an alley-oop to me, so I’m really excited about the idea of playing quicker and faster.”
Porzingis said he’s been working on his ballhandling drills to the point that “it’s annoying.” He’s also been working on his shooting and getting stronger so he can play more in the post.
“I’m just full of energy,” Porzingis said. “I’ve got to keep that energy and keep working and then once the season is here, I will enjoy it more when I show something new on the court.”