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Kristaps Porzingis on being face of Knicks: “It’s something that I wanted one day”

Kristaps Porzingis

New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis passes during NBA basketball practice in Greenburgh, N.Y., Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


Carmelo Anthony is on to a new challenge — will he be the third option and make the sacrifices needed to win in Oklahoma City?

The New York Knicks are now Kristaps Porzingis’ team — and that’s a good thing. It is the step the franchise needed to make, even though it was going to come with some bumps along the way.

Is Porzingis ready for this? He said all the right things, speaking to Ian Begley of ESPN.

“It’s something that I wanted one day, to be like that. I just kept working towards it, kept getting better. And I’m going to keep ... growing as a player and hopefully year by year we can grow as a team also,” he said after the team’s open practice at MSG. Porzingis added that he doesn’t feel any different going into the season as the franchise focal point, but he knows how things work under the fan/media spotlight in New York. “Obviously, when it’s going great, then you can be the God, and then when it’s going bad, they want to kill you. So there are going to be some tough moments, I’m sure about that. I’ve just got to be strong mentally here in New York and it will be fine.”

Not everyone has the temperament to play in New York, especially not every superstar. Porzingis seems to have that down.

The key question with Porzingis isn’t “can he be good enough to lead this team?” He showed his skill again during EuroBasket where he was dominant with Latvia. The real question is “will he be durable enough to lead this team?” KP played in 66 games last season and missed 10 as a rookie, and among Phil Jackson’s concerns with the Latvian was whether he could hold up physically to the rigors of the NBA schedule? Every night teams are going to bang on him, be physical with him, and can he handle it?

The Knicks are betting he can. We are about to find out.