ARDSLEY, New York — Kristaps Porzingis has clear expectations for the New York Knicks this season.
“Obviously, the No. 1 goal is the playoffs this year,” he said Saturday at a camp he hosted for children in Westchester, New York. “That’s where my head is at. I can’t be thinking nothing past that. Right now it’s the playoffs.”
The Knicks have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons and won just 32 games in 2015-16. But team president Phil Jackson put together a roster designed to win immediately this summer when he traded for Derrick Rose and signed Joakim Noah and Brandon Jennings.
Rose has garnered attention this offseason for saying that the Knicks share the same ‘Super Team’ label as the Golden State Warriors. He also believes the Knicks have the talent to win every game they play this season. Porzingis said Saturday that he appreciates Rose’s confidence.
“I don’t know what’s a Super Team and what’s not a Super Team but what I think he meant was that we’re able to win every game,” the second-year forward/center said. “Not that we’re going to win 82 games, zero (losses). But every team that comes up, we’re able to beat them because we have enough talent. I think that’s what he meant and I like the confidence, I like that he believes that we’re good enough. So it’s just, now we’ve got to prove it. It’s enough talking and we’ve got to go out on the court and prove that we’re a good team.”
The addition of Rose has led some to wonder if Porzingis will get fewer touches and shots in the coming season. Both Rose and Carmelo Anthony have had the ball in their hands extensively over the course of their careers; they each used more than 27 percent of their team’s possessions while on the floor last season.
Will that leave fewer touches for Porzingis this season?
“That’s secondary for me,” he said. “If we can win games, it doesn’t matter who is scoring. If we as a team can win [it doesn’t] matter who is taking how many shots, at least for me. So if we all have that same mentality then we’re going to be fine…. It’s just as simple as that.”
Some observers also feel that the Knicks’ decision to put together a team built to win immediately — rather than a club that can develop slowly around Porzingis’ timeline — will impact his long-term growth. But Porzingis doesn’t see it that way.
“Not really. I know, [with] the team drafting me, they want me to grow and grow into a star, a superstar. So I believe that they’re going to help me grow,” he said. “And they know the type of guy that I am. When I have difficulties, I will not complain…. If we’re winning, that’s all that matters to me. If we’re winning, I’ll be happy. And that can help me grow. Last season helped me grow because we lost, and that’s a lot to take mentally. But as long as we’re winning and I’m playing hard and with intensity — and I have the right mindset — then we’ll be fine.”
To that end, Porzingis and some other Knicks have been working out at the team facility and the gym in his building in Manhattan in recent days. Porzingis has been impressed by playing with Rose, who is a defendant in a civil suit involving an alleged sexual assault that is set to go to trial on Oct. 4.
“How explosive he is and everything, he’s still got it,” said Porzingis, who weighs between 238-240 pounds entering training camp. “He’s still Derrick Rose. And so it will be exciting to play with him. He draws so much attention when he’s driving he’s so dangerous that I’m going to be wide open and that’s what I’m looking forward to. He’s going to be creating for me and other teammates.”