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Kristaps Porzingis won’t play in 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament for Latvia

New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis reacts

New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis reacts after his shot goes in and out against the Denver Nuggets in the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Kristaps Porzingis won’t be playing for Latvia in the Olympic qualifying tournament this summer. Instead, he will spend the offseason working on his overall game and getting stronger.

Porzingis announced at a news conference Monday morning in Latvia that he won’t be playing for his country. This hardly came as a surprise, considering how he spoke about his offseason plans throughout his rookie season with the Knicks.

“This is a big offseason for me and I really want to work individually,” Porzingis said two days after the Knicks’ season ended last month.

Porzingis said his plan is to spend much of the offseason in New York working with the Knicks’ coaches and training staff.

The 7-3 Porzingis had moments of brilliance during his first season and looks like a future All-Star. He averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 72 games.

Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis said during the season that he would rather see Porzingis bypass playing for his country and focus on developing parts of his game. Porzingis said three main areas of focus will be his post game, his lateral quickness and his body.

Porzingis ended the season at 232 pounds and believes 245 would be a good weight for him. He also wants to show more versatility on both ends of the floor so he’s more valuable to the team and can be a crunch-time performer.

“Number one is getting stronger,” Porzingis said. “Not only putting on weight and being big, but being more athletic, quicker, being able to guard smaller guys when we switch. I want to be the guy who can be there the last quarter on the court as the [center] and be able to guard everybody and switch with everybody. That’s how basketball is these days.

“It’s going to be a lot of work, not only putting on mass but quickness, how I move, how I move my feet, how I run. That’s number one. And obviously my skill set. For my skills, number one thing is post game. In the triangle, it’s going to be fundamental for me to be able to score in the post and be really aggressive, and not only score but create situations for others while I’m in the post. Everything else comes after that.”

New York Sports