Kristaps Porzingis says he loves New York and still wants to be a member of the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
Porzingis will leave for Latvia on Thursday without meeting with Phil Jackson, but said blowing off his exit interview is not a sign that he doesn't want to play at Madison Square Garden next year.
"Of course," Porzingis said when asked if he wants to be a Knick next season. "I love New York. I love New York."
According to Berman, New York was not given an explanation behind the 21-year old Latvian's decision to skip the scheduled meeting with Jackson on Friday. But sources say that Porzingis is upset with the way the franchise has been run, with Jackson's poor handling of Carmelo Anthony and going all-in on the triangle offense.
Porzingis declined to elaborate on why he missed the exit interview.
"It's not the right moment to comment on anything [about it]," said Porzingis. "I don't want to say anything.''
Jackson and the coaching staff are still in the dark as to why the team's young franchise player declined to show for the scheduled interview.
"It wasn't right," said a source familiar with Jackson's feelings on Porzingis' blow-off. "But Phil went through this with Kobe [Bryant] and Andrew [Bynum], when they were still young but started to sprout their opinions and rebelled. It worked for Kobe. Hopefully this will make Kristaps better in the long run."
Porzingis is scheduled to hold a press conference Monday in his hometown of Liepaja to formally announce his participation on the Latvian national team in the European Championships, his first appearance on the team in three years.
Sending a message by skipping his exit meeting is one thing, but the fact that Porzingis will leave for Latvia before clearing things up with the Knicks first shows just how frustrated he really is.
There are plenty of reasons to be upset. Porzingis has long admired Anthony and the two have become close. What's more, there's no doubt that in this point in his career, Anthony still takes tremendous pressure off Porzingis offensively. As the young gun looks towards the future, it has to be discouraging to observe the poor treatment Anthony has received. How can Porzingis believe without any hesitation that Phil Jackson won't disregard him in the same manner when/if the time comes? Not everyone responds well to tough love.
Even if Porzingis has an allegiance to Anthony, basketball is a business and things happen. After he skipped his exiting meeting, New York brass should have been aggressively reaching out. With Anthony all but out of New York, Porzingis will (eventually) be the centerpiece of this ball club. The Knicks need him on board. There are still many questions that need to be answered via trades, free agency, the draft, etc. Having Porzingis in the Knicks' corner as an enthusiastic recruiter would be a big boost heading into the summer. Allowing him to leave for Latvia without much clarity (or understanding for his own frustration) is a poor move by Jackson and Co.