It’s not just that Phil Jackson is gone, although that helps.
It’s that Kristaps Porzingis wants to be the guy that brings New York back to the top of the NBA — and that hasn’t changed. It may be a little easier without Jackson starting an unnecessary pissing contest, shoving the triangle down everybody’s throat, and creating a questionable culture. It might be easier if the Knicks trade Carmelo Anthony and get back some players closer to Porzingis’ career arc.
But ultimately, Porzingis likes the city and wants to win there. That’s what he told Shaun Powell of NBA.com as KP prepared for an exhibition game in Africa where he would be the youngest NBA player.
“So far it’s been tough in New York, but my journey is only beginning and I hope to stay there my whole career, so as a city we can have some fun and win some games and do something big,” he said.
“For me, it’s now home.”
That’s your good news for the summer, Knicks fans. Enjoy it.
Porzingis struck the right tone when asked about a potential Anthony trade.
“He’s an All-Star, an incredible player and I’ve learned so much from him,” Porzingis said. “There’s still so much for me to learn form him. I would love to have him around and keep playing alongside him. But it is what it is. It’s a business. If it ends, well … I don’t know, it’s out of my hands. I’m really thankful for these couple of years I’ve been with him, just seeing how he works during the summer. It proves he wants to win and he wants to be great. I’m sure he’ll make the right decision for himself.”
Coach Jeff Hornacek can and should install a system that highlights Porzingis’ skills — and Steve Mills and Scott Perry need to get guys who fit that style. The coaching staff needs to become good at developing guys like just drafted Frank Ntilikina, or improving just overpaid signed Tim Hardaway Jr. Player development matters now and the Knicks need to get good at it.
A lot of things need to happen in New York, but at least the cornerstone player wants to be there.