Kristaps Porzingis has been working on his game and his body in his home country of Latvia, but he will return to New York at the end of the month and looks forward to meeting with new Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek.
The two have exchanged texts since Hornacek was hired to replace Kurt Rambis.
“I think he’s a very smart coach,” Porzingis told ESPN.com. “He knows how to use his players and that’s exactly what we need. And we’ll see if we can get some more players this offseason. But I think we have enough talent, and having [Carmelo Anthony] makes everybody better.
“So if we know how to go from there, using Melo, myself and involving everybody, using everybody’s strengths and putting it all together, then we’ll be a different team. We’ll be able to succeed.”
The Knicks are expected to play less triangle under Hornacek, but they still will have principles of team president Phil Jackson’s offense within their system. But Hornacek is a proponent of running and playing pick-and-rolls. Porzingis could thrive in this offense with his athleticism and versatility.
The 7-3 Porzingis can play on the perimeter, but he’s also working on his post game to become more of a threat. Some teams put smaller players, even guards, on Porzingis to try to frustrate him. He’ll have a size advantage more often than not, and he and Hornacek want to exploit that.
Porzingis had a strong season, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting to Karl-Anthony Towns and being voted unanimously to the All-Rookie first team. Porzingis averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. He is definitely a building block for the Knicks’ future.
The Knicks need to upgrade the backcourt this offseason. The NBA Draft is next week, but the Knicks traded away their first- and second-round selections. They are expected to try to acquire a draft pick. Hornacek said he would like the Knicks to get a young veteran point guard through a trade or free agency.
Hornacek spoke glowingly about Porzingis and his potential at his introductory news conference. Hornacek said with Porzingis’ size and skill, “Why can’t he be a top five player in this league? Why can’t he be the best player in this league?”
In their text exhanges, Porzingis wanted to let Hornacek know he was working hard.
“I didn’t want [him] to be thinking that I’m at home just resting,” Porzingis said. “I’m actually working, doing some individual work. That’s what I wanted to let him know; I’m working hard back home and I’m going to be in New York at the end of June.”