While he loves New York, Kristaps Porzingis made it clear that being in a situation that gives him a chance to win will be the most important factor for the Latvian star when deciding whether or not to re-sign with the Knicks in two years.
"Absolutely, I want to stay here all my career,'' Porzingis said about re-signing in New York, according to the English translation provided by Sporta Avize, a Latvian sports magazine. "But the thing I want most of all is winning. When the time comes, I will seriously start to think about it. Right now I just try to do my best."
Sources say Porzingis is unhappy with Phil Jackson's treatment of Carmelo Anthony. When asked about Anthony's situation with the team, the 21-year old said the media helped exaggerate the tension between Jackson and the veteran forward.
"This was a situation media did not hesitate to heat up more than it was in reality," said Porzingis. "I think there was some mistakes from Phil - things he maybe shouldn't [have] said or written, things that made the situation worse or made him not look good. But at the same time - it's that kind of business. I understand.''
It certainly was a miserable season for the Knicks, but Porzingis believes he gained some valuable experience this year with the team going 31-51.
"In a one way this was a good year for me to see how can I handle so crappy a time and learn from that. It was unpleasant but valuable experience to learn from, to get through it and continue to play with the right attitude and maximum concentration," Porzingis said. "If you want to be a leader you have to start with yourself - first you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself: what can you do better? And only then tell your teammates what they should do better … a real test for the brains."
Porzingis had previously been coy about why he skipped his exit meeting. His recent comments suggest, however, that Jackson's treatment of Anthony over the course of the season surely contributed to his own frustration.
At his recent press conference, Jackson had dismissed any suggested expectation that he may have to communicate to his team's fan base (through the media). That said, it's only because of the way he's chosen to communicate or convey certain messages that those around this team are seeking further clarification. Criticizing your team's star in multiple open forums can't be appreciated by Porzingis. As a leader of this team (and the likely holder of the throne following Anthony's expected departure), Porzingis' is expressing displeasure with the way things have been handled. One would have to think his mentality is a reflection upon that of his teammates and the rest of this group's culture.
Jackson's critiques certainly haven't been limited to just Anthony. As the Knicks explore trade opportunities for the star forward, Jackson was asked if Porzingis was ready to shoulder the burden of being New York's headlining attraction. With the executive dismissing this notion, it could have been a hit to Porzingis' still maturing ego. The young gun has been pretty outspoken during his NBA tenure so he isn't afraid to use his voice. This could influence prospective free agents in a negative way.