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‘Could I go back and do things differently? For sure’

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Dec 17, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis (6) is greeted during a stoppage in play against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first half at Crypto.com Arena.

Dec 17, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis (6) is greeted during a stoppage in play against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first half at Crypto.com Arena. / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been seven years since Kristaps Porzingis went to the Knicks in the 2015 NBA Draft with the No. 4 overall pick.

While Porzingis became an instant favorite with fans, the injury-prone end of his New York career and unceremonious exit left a bad taste in many Knicks faithful mouths.

Apparently, that feeling was mutual.

“It wasn’t perfect on either side,” Porzingis told NBA.com. “But Phil Jackson was there at the time, and I’m nothing but grateful for him to have the [courage] to draft me with the fourth pick and give me the opportunity to play in New York.”

That opportunity also came with a lot of pressure, intensity and outside noise, something the then 20-year-old Latvian didn’t see a future there.

“It was intense,” Porzingis said of playing in New York. “It’s the biggest stage you can play on. You go from being loved by everybody to [the opposite] all of a sudden. I’m not going to lie. I missed it. But that’s the reality. That’s what made me think this is not going to be forever, so I better figure out who I am without that.”

Porzingis was averaging 22.7 points for the Knicks when he suffered a torn ACL in 2018 that would keep him off the court for a season and a half. In that time, the organization would fail to reach an agreement on extending his rookie contract.

Then came the self-publicized workouts, and seemingly non-existent communication between him and the Knicks. Contract talks became contentious, and after he missed an exit interview in 2017 it became clear that Porzingis was not happy being in New York.

“Could I go back and do things differently? For sure,” Porzingis said of his end with the Knicks. “From our side, I was hurt. If I kept playing, it would’ve been completely different. I’m young and listening to people and what they’re telling me on what I should do with my career. You don’t know any better. That’s how things went at that time. I can only say really good things about the organization because I enjoyed it so much playing there in New York and playing in front of those fans.

“It was a dream come true. In the moment, I didn’t realize it’s not like that everywhere. New York is a special place. Madison Square Garden is the most special place I had ever played in. But at that moment, I thought it was like that on every team. I had the most fun playing in The Garden.”

He was then traded to the Dallas Mavericks, and after two-and-a-half seasons he got dealt again to the Washington Wizards.

Porzingis didn’t want to go into detail when asked what he would have done differently in New York, but pointed to the communication between he and the organization.

“How things went with the communication wasn’t my style,” he said. “My style would be different with whatever needed to be done. Maybe it was nothing. My style would’ve been different either way. But I was wrong. I was going with the flow.”

When the subject of him missing his 2017 exit interview was brought up, Porzingis interrupted with a laugh.

“You think I came up with that?” Porzingis said. “It is what it is. … If I didn’t get hurt in New York, you never know how things could’ve gone. But I can’t keep living with this feeling of regret. I have to keep moving forward. I’m really happy here in Washington now. I’m focused on now and what’s coming ahead.”



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