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Kristaps Porzingis plans to build himself up during offseason

Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks looks on

Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks looks on from the bench as his teammates play the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Kristaps Porzingis is eager to get back in the gym, and the way he described his offseason plan, it sounds as if he plans to take up residence there.

“No. 1 [goal] is getting in that weight room and living in there, basically,” Porzingis said Wednesday night. “I’m going to be in there twice a day and then I’m going to be twice a day on the basketball court as well, just working on everything.

“It’s going to be a huge summer for me. I’m going to be in the gym 24/7 to get better and to come back next season stronger.”

The Knicks’ 7-3, 240-pound forward said similar things going into the offseason after his rookie season a year ago, but he insists there are differences.

“I’m going to be lifting and I’ll be boxing and some things I haven’t done before,” Porzingis said. “I’m going to work on some things that are not attached to basketball and maybe that can help my game.”

Porzingis, who missed 16 games this season, was sidelined for the final five games because of a sore lower back. He was a spectator Wednesday night when the Knicks (31-51) ended 2016-17 with a 114-113 victory over the 76ers, tying them with Minnesota for the sixth-worst record in the league. He said his back is improving and that he’s close to being able to resume his normal physical activities.

It’s an important offseason for Porzingis because he could find himself in a different position next season. If Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks go their separate ways, Porzingis likely will become the focal point of the offense. He has yet to prove he can be a go-to player in the NBA, but he said he will be ready if and when the time comes.

“I haven’t thought about that,” he said. “I really focused on getting better as a player. Once that time comes, I’m sure I’ll be ready. If that happens, whatever happens, I’ve got to stay ready, work on my game. I’ve got to still get better and then we’ll see.’’

Porzingis, who averaged 18.1 points per game, which ranked second on the Knicks behind Anthony, said he wants to be able to play in the post and will work on strengthening his lower body. He believes he improved from Year 1 and that there’s another level he can reach.

Porzingis said he would like to work out with Mavericks icon Dirk Nowitzki if it can be arranged. He also said he plans to go home to Latvia to train and limit his travel this offseason. He has to go to Asia for a couple of promotional events with adidas but doesn’t want anything to interfere with his workouts.

“I’m leaning toward staying back home and just being really focused and putting all my energy into working at that moment and not travel around and do what other guys are doing,” Porzingis said. “Just focus on my individual work. I think I’m going to try to do as little traveling as I can and just stay in one place and focus.

“I have it more clear when I want to work out, what time, for how long, what I need to work on more, what I need to focus on. It’s a little more clear what I want to do this offseason. Now it’s time to get to work.”

New York Sports