GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Kristaps Porzingis wants the Knicks to be buyers at the trade deadline to improve their chances of making the playoffs.
“Of course,” he said after practice Monday. “Playoff experience for myself individually would be huge at this point in my career — the sooner the better.
“For myself, selfishly I would want to play in the playoffs, but we’ll see what happens and how we can end the season.”
Porzingis’ first two seasons in the NBA ended with the Knicks losing 50 and 51 games, respectively. After dropping 14 of their last 19 games, the Knicks are 22-28, but entering Monday, they were only four games out of a playoff spot with 32 to play.
Before deciding whether to make moves to help them for this season or be sellers to advance their rebuilding efforts, Knicks officials could wait and see if the team makes up any ground between now and the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
The Knicks have said this is a developmental year, but Jeff Hornacek is starting Jarrett Jack, 34, and Courtney Lee, 32, and frequently closing games with them, so they are trying to win.
Some stars want to have input on trades, but Porzingis said he doesn’t need to speak with management about it. “I think they know I want to be in the playoffs and that’s the only thing on my mind,” he said. “I’m not going to go in there and be like, ‘No, we’re tanking. There’s no reason to play.’ That’s the only thing I’m focused on. What I need to do on the court to play better, make my team win.”
Some of the players who might interest other teams are among his closest friends on the team — Lee, Kyle O’Quinn and Willy Hernangomez — but he is taking a pragmatic approach to that. “It’s a business. Anything can happen,” he said. “The situation is what it is and stuff happens. We’ll see what happens.
“I have a great relationship with a lot of these guys, and every year it’s like that and every year a lot of new guys come in. It’s changing and it’s changing quick, so we’ve got to understand that part of it.”
Hornacek has been through it before and understands that this time of year can be a distraction for the players and the team. He’s trying to keep the players focused on getting better, and he said they’ll deal with a trade if and when something happens.
“We’re trying to win every game,” he said. “Sometimes things happen. Maybe we’re in the hunt now. Maybe people didn’t think we were going to be what we are. As players, they’re competitive. They want to get there. I think it’s a great attitude to have as a player, coach, organization.
“Whatever the organization has to do to add to the team. We’re under .500. We’re working to get better. Just take it one day at a time. Work on the things you’re weak at, and that’s what our guys are focusing on. But they’re all competitors. Every single guy we have here wants to win and wants to be out on the court. That’s a good start for us trying to build something.”
Notes & quotes: Enes Kanter lacerated his upper lip during practice. The Knicks said he received seven stitches and is probable to play against the Nets on Tuesday night at the Garden.