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Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks struggling to keep heads above water

Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks drives to

Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks drives to the hoop in the first half against Trevor Booker of the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Sunday, March 12, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Kristaps Porzingis could have gone with the infamous words of former Knick Micheal Ray Richardson and said, “The ship be sinking.”

Instead, Porzingis picked a quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to describe how he views this very rocky season as it pertains to him, although he didn’t quite remember it verbatim.

“I think this year is a really good experience for me,” Porzingis said after Sunday’s 120-112 loss to the Nets. “It’s a tough year. It’s a tough everything. There’s a quote like, a smooth sea never, you know what I mean about the sea? Google it.

“Basically, if the sea is smooth, you’re never going to become a great sailor. That’s how I always take it — as a challenge.”

Porzingis was close. FDR said, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

If that’s the case, Knicks players should be very good after their experiences this season. Then again, some probably will abandon ship or be asked to walk the plank, especially if they don’t excel in the triangle.

Either way, Porzingis is trying to stay positive amid a sea of confusion and frustration.

After the loss to the Nets, Porzingis said there was “a lot of confusion . . . from top to bottom” because of the constant changing of schemes, and Carmelo Anthony said there is frustration overall.

“It’s challenging to try to keep it tight, to try to keep everybody positive around here, knowing that some frustration probably had crept into the locker room,” Anthony said on Sunday. “But that’s the challenging part of kind of trying to keep it all together throughout this next month.”

The Knicks, who will host the Pacers on Tuesday night (weather permitting), have 15 games left. Their next loss will assure them of a fourth straight losing season, including all three full ones since Phil Jackson became team president.

Jackson was supposed to turn the Knicks into winners. The Knicks (26-41) are far from that, and that has Porzingis, the future face of the franchise, hoping for stability at some point.

In less than two full seasons in the NBA, Porzingis has had three coaches and 25 teammates and has seen the Knicks lose 91 games and counting.

The Knicks have re-emphasized the triangle offense since returning from the All-Star break on Feb. 21, but Porzingis said the Knicks are triangle-challenged.

“First of all, we don’t know the triangle that well,” he said. “A lot of times it’s one-on-one, whoever it is, me, Carmelo, Derrick [Rose], Courtney [Lee]. We try to make something happen, and that’s not how it’s supposed to be. It’s very random.”

Everything Porzingis said seems obvious, but it’s significant coming from him.

Some of the confusion stems from coach Jeff Hornacek never playing in or coaching the triangle before he was hired. He was running “triangle aspects” earlier in the season, but now Jackson’s system of choice has become the focus for the remainder of the season.

Jackson ran a triangle session for the guards last week, trying to teach them different reads and the right way to pass the ball, according to the players involved. Rose said Jackson plans to run more of the triangle clinics before the season ends.

Hornacek has said multiple times that an objective is to see which players fit the system. Most players aren’t fans of the triangle, but Porzingis likes it. And he would like to believe there is some smooth sailing ahead.

“It’s going to come,” he said. “I know it is. If we do all the right things, we keep focused, we keep working, we make the right decisions, it’s going to come. We’ll be there. I don’t doubt it.

“Right now, it’s a tough situation. We’ve got to do the best we can every day from now on. That time when we all can enjoy it will be here sometime.”

Porzingis had better hope that ship hasn’t sailed.


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