Kristaps Porzingis is back in the United States and ready to lead the New York Knicks out of the Carmelo Anthony era. At least, that's what he says.
The Latvian star who fled the country shortly after a difficult 2016-17 season ended is returning to a very different-looking franchise as he addressed the New York media on Monday.
Here is what he had to say:
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On being a leader
"Of course [I can be a leader]. I’m excited about the opportunity to be a leader of the team, but at the end, it’s not just one guy. It’s us 15 guys as a team. But I’m excited to be one of the leaders."
On his relationship with the team
"No [I'm not angry). I'm coming into the season with a fresh mind for a new season. I want to leave it in the past. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Let’s talk about the Knicks season and I’m excited to be here."
On the departure of Carmelo Anthony
"I’m really grateful to have had him for these two seasons and I had the opportunity to learn under him. He was a great leader for us…a great mentor for me. He was like a big brother to me. I have nothing but respect for Carmelo and wish him the best for the future."
On how things will be different without Anthony
"He took a lot of pressure off everyone. He was always the No. 1 focal point for the other team and I realize that now, I’m going to be one of those guys now…That’s going to make things a little more difficult for me. He draws so much attention and now there might be more attention on me so I have to be ready for that, it’s going to be different."
On his first impressions of new team management
A lot of changes obviously, a lot of new things. But I arrived yesterday and I have no idea, honestly. I was back home in Latvia and focused on my game…I’m sure management is going to their best and us as players are going to do our best to keep growing as a team. I believe [things are on the right track]. I have faith in those people and I believe they want us to grow and they want for me to be in a position where I can succeed. I’m excited. A lot of new things are happening, a lot of new people are here…I’m coming in with a fresh mind and looking forward to the season."
On the logjam at center with the arrival of Enes Kanter and what position he'd prefer to play
"I’m a lot more comfortable at the 4 [power forward], but we’ll see how it all comes together…We have a lot of big guys and it’s going to be competitive in practice."