INDIANAPOLIS — Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis said he will spend most of the offseason in New York working on his strength and overall game.
Porzingis said he hasn’t decided whether he will play for the Latvian National Team this summer, but it sounds as if he’s leaning toward skipping it and will train to improve his individual skills.
“For the most of the offseason I will be in New York, working out,” Porzingis said Tuesday morning. “I know we have great coaches. We have Kurt [Rambis]. We have Phil [Jackson]. To learn from those guys, that’s fundamental for me, especially my first offseason.
“There’s a lot of stuff I have to work on and I think they have the idea pretty clear on what they want me to work on. So it will be a big offseason for me.”
Porzingis’ rookie season will end with him on the bench in a sports jacket. A strained right shoulder will keep him out of Tuesday night’s regular-season finale against the Pacers. Porzingis missed the last seven games because of the injury.
Porzingis said he is still not shooting, but the pain and discomfort have lessened. The versatile 7-3 Porzingis finished his first season averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, but he wasn’t satisfied with his play.
“Not effective enough that we could win and be in the playoffs, but I tried to do the best I could,” Porzingis said. “I always think that I could have had a better year, I could have done things better. I think that’s how you learn.
“Now going into the offseason, I have seen what I’m missing in my game, where I can be more effective and what I need to work on to be a better player next season. And my mentality’s always like that. That’s why I’m able to improve every year.”
Rambis believes Porzingis has all the tools to be a top player in the NBA.
“I think he’s just going to be awesome at some point in time,” Rambis said. “He’s got to fill out. He’s got to get stronger. His game has to evolve and get better. He knows that. I just see his tremendous versatility as somebody that’s going to have an impact on a game in so many areas.
“He’s going to be one of those really unique players. It’s going to be fun to watch him grow and turn into the player that we all know that he can be because he’s internally driven. He’s competitive. He’s got unbelievable work ethic. He has all of the components that you would want as a player from a coaching standpoint. He’s got a great personality. He wants to win. He wants to be great. He’s going to put in the time and the work to make sure that happens.”