The long-awaited visit between Knicks head coach David Fizdale and star forward Kristaps Porzingis has come to an end. And it was everything the Knicks hoped it would be.
Fizdale and his wife, Natasha, went overseas to visit Porzingis and his family in Latvia to get to know him on a more personal level, and develop what everyone hopes will be a healthy relationship for this season and more to come.
"It was important for Coach Fizdale to spend time with Kristaps and his family," an NBA source told The Post's Marc Berman. "It was an opportunity for both the coach and player to get to know each other on a more personal level and also talk basketball. It's part of establishing the type of culture and interaction necessary to building a strong foundation for this team in both the short and longer term."
When Fizdale was hired, many loved the idea of pairing him up with the young roster as a developmental leader. But it was interesting for Porzingis' camp as they are good friends with the Gasols. The feud between Marc Gasol and Fizdale eventually saw the Grizzlies siding with their All-Star center, and sending their head coach packing after a month into his second season.
But, this time around, Fizdale made the effort to visit Porzingis in his hometown, Liepaja, and show he wanted to know more about the 22-year-old instead of just what he can provide on the hardwood. Porzingis' brothers -- agent Janis and manager Martins -- were also there during the visit.
Big thank you to @kporzee @porzingis @mporzingis for being so hospitable to us in your home city and country @liepajalv . We loved it all, the city, the FOOD, the people, the beaches, the LATVIAN SAUNA 😍! Some have been asking if Latvia is worth traveling to.. the answer is YES! Everywhere we looked it was beautiful and pristine! ❤
Fizdale told Latvian TV that his relationship with Porzingis before the visit was also really strong, as the big man was kept in the loop of the moves the Knicks were making this offseason.
"We've had some really good conversations," Fizdale siad. "We talked about the kids we drafted. I've tried to make sure that he's -- we've been in communication on every decision that we've made."
Porzingis decided to rehab with Real Madrid in Spain this summer, and it seems to be working well. The 7-foot-3 All-Star has been making great progress with his program after suffering a torn ACL last season. Fizdale and Porzingis were also seen together in the gym during the visit.
"I'm getting shots up in the gym, moving my feet, jumping a bit but not allowed to run yet," Porzingis said in the latest episode of his documentary "Porzingis' Comeback." "I'm taking time with that, making sure the muscles are back to normal before I start running. I'm waling an hour at a good pace, doing upper body, lifting weights. Not too obsessed with that. I don't want to put too much stress on the knee coming out of the surgery. The main thing is working on the whole body and biomechanics that it's strong when I come back."
It may have been just a few days, but this visit was something neither GM Scott Perry or team president Steve Mills adventured on last season when Porzingis was staying silent in Europe. The fact that Fizdale made the effort to meet with the face of the fracnhise not only sohws his devotion to the team, but is a huge step in continuing to create the new Knicks culture.