GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Kristaps Porzingis didn’t feel compelled to be more vocal or act much differently during his first practice as the Knicks’ new go-to guy. Porzingis said he will first lead with his work ethic.
“I don’t need to force it,” Porzingis said Tuesday. “The first thing I’ll do, I’ll be the hardest working guy. We have a lot of guys that work hard. I’ll work hard also and give an example and then from that hard work you can be a leader.”
Porzingis will be thrust into that role with Carmelo Anthony no longer calling Madison Square Garden home. Porzingis prepared over the summer to carry a bigger workload regardless of whether Anthony was back or not.
The 7-3 Porzingis worked on his body and post game, which he displayed for the Latvian National team in the European Championships. Porzingis said he only gained five pounds — he’s around 240 now — but that he’s much stronger. He hopes it helps him stay on the court after missing 26 games in his first two seasons.
“The goal this summer wasn’t to get big and gain weight,” he said. “It was to get stronger, more explosive, get my body tighter. That is going to help me everywhere on the floor.”
Lee willing to lead
Courtney Lee, 32, isn’t concerned about his role with the Knicks going through a youth movement. He believes he can still help them in a variety of ways.
“That happens, especially when you trade a guy such as Melo, who was a big part of what the vision was last year,” said Lee, who’s in the second year of a four-year, $48-million contract.
“We got a good young core group,” Lee said. “It’s going to be my job and everybody else who’s in that 30-club to push these guys and come out here and compete and show them the right way and lay down that blueprint so they can take it and go forward with it.”
Lee still could be a starter because of his versatility and ability to defend. But when he was asked about it, he said, “The thing that would mean the most to me is if we make the playoffs.”