As much as New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis wants to return to playing, he is committed to a patient approach as he continues to recover from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament.
"I'm hungry," Porzingis told reporters Monday at the team's media day. "I want to be on the court as soon as possible. It's good that I have a good team around me, holding me back when I need to be held back, telling me I need to be patient. It's a long process, already 7 1/2 months.
"I'm getting itchy. But it won't happen until I am 110 percent and medically cleared."
The 7-foot-3 Latvian wouldn't even rule out missing the entire season, offering only "it's hard to say" when asked about the possibility.
Porzingis injured his knee in February and missed the remainder of last season. The team has been steadfast about not rushing him back, and team president Steve Mills reiterated that stance last Thursday, saying, "We're not taking any risks with him."
The 23-year-old Porzingis also spoke Monday about the culture around the team under new coach David Fizdale. He sounded positive about how things have gone after tension emerged between him and the team late last season.
"So far it's good vibes around here, good energy around here," Porzingis said. "It's good to be in an environment like this. We'll see. I just got here from Europe, but there is good energy. That's the first thing I saw and am happy about."
Porzingis added he is not thinking much about a potential contract extension. He is eligible to sign a new deal before the regular season or could wait until next summer, when he'll be a restricted free agent. The Knicks might prefer to wait, which would give them around $10 million in additional cap space to sign free agents in July.
In 48 games last season, Porzingis averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Entering his fourth season, he has career averages of 17.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
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