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Kristaps Porzingis’ only concern is getting healthy

“I’m sure the front office, they will make the right decisions,” the franchise player said about the Knicks' search for a new coach.

The Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis speaks with the media

The Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis speaks with the media after his exit interview with Knicks management on Saturday. Photo Credit: Richard Harbus

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Kristaps Porzingis deflected most questions about the future of the Knicks on Saturday, saying his only focus is on returning from a torn left ACL.

He also said he will leave management to do its job in picking a new coach and assembling a competitive roster. But Porzingis acknowledged that he’s “an impatient individual.”

Porzingis’ patience apparently will be tested. Team president Steve Mills said Thursday that the rebuilding process will take three to five years.

“I’m an impatient individual in general in life,” Porzingis said at the team’s facility Saturday morning. “About small things also. But I know one thing: I’m going to have to be patient with the knee. That’s the number one thing right now on my mind.

“It’s hard for me to think about all these things. All that’s on my mind right now is my knee. When things happen, all I can think about is the next step. I’ll start thinking about [the future] when I’m healthy.”

Porzingis, who was very careful with his words, said his left knee is recovering fast. He still won’t put a timetable on his return, though. He said “no” when asked if his contract situation will impact when he plays again.

The Knicks can offer Porzingis a five-year extension for roughly $157 million this summer. They might opt to wait until the following summer to make sure he’s healthy and because it would give them more money to use in free agency in 2019.

Porzingis spoke to reporters before his exit interview with Knicks management and left the room joking that he might go to the meeting. He made headlines last season for skipping his exit meeting with Knicks officials out of frustration with the drama and direction of the team.

At least he showed up this time. It was strange that a member of Porzingis’ PR staff sat in on the interview with the media, but Porzingis reiterated that he wants to remain with the Knicks.

“Of course,” he said. “I love this place, as I’ve said before, and right now I’m just focused on the knee.”

Mills and general manager Scott Perry are trying to change the culture that existed long before Phil Jackson was in charge but was perpetuated by the former team president.

The Knicks still have a long way to go. They’re coming off a fifth straight year of missing the playoffs, looking for Jeff Hornacek’s replacement as coach and continuing their plan to build the team around Porzingis.

He will be playing for his fourth coach in four NBA seasons, but Porzingis, guarded as ever, wouldn’t say stability is important to him.

“The situation is what it is,” he said. “I’m sure the front office, they will make the right decisions. And to build something that has a . . . that can go a long way. I think they will make the right decisions, so we have to trust them.”

Porzingis said he reached out to Hornacek after he was fired Thursday morning, wished him good luck and thanked him. Despite reports that they had some issues, Porzingis said “we had a good relationship” three times.

As far as whom the Knicks choose as Hornacek’s successor, Porzingis wouldn’t reveal much about what qualities he wants in his next coach.

“It’s not in my hands right now,’’ he said. “It’s the management, whatever decision they make. Then we’ll see who the coach is and we’ll go from there. That’s it.

“It’s all been about the knee. That’s why I do my job and they do theirs.”

Porzingis was chosen to participate in the All-Star Game for the first time, but he was unable to play after tearing his left ACL on Feb. 6. He believes he will come back better and stronger, but he wouldn’t say what he’s been doing in his rehab.

Instead, he said some videos of his workouts will be on YouTube. It’s all about the brand.

“The knee is recovering fast,” said Porzingis, who will be returning to Latvia and rehabbing there with his own trainers. “I’m getting better pretty fast, so I’m happy about that.

“I expect myself to heal like a lizard. I’m happy about how the rehab is going. It’s an injury that even if everything is going smoothly, you still have to have a lot of patience and you have to go step-by-step. We’re taking our time and we’re making sure we’re doing everything right.”

Porzingis was vague when he was asked if the state of the Knicks — who could struggle again — will affect his return or if there is any thought of sitting out the entire season.

“It’s hard because I don’t know when I’m going to be healthy,” he said. “I don’t want to go too far ahead. I want to be right now in the moment and then, as it comes closer, then it will all be clear.

“It all depends on how I can come back from the injury and how I move. I want to come back more fluid. So whenever I see myself ready and whenever my team allows me to come back, I’ll come back. It’s tough to imagine already that decision and me trying to make that decision right now. It’s early.”

New York Sports

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