Kristaps Porzingis is ready to take center stage in New York, and says he’s prepared to step in Carmelo Anthony‘s shoes as the Knicks’ headliner.

Porzingis says he’s prepared himself for the added pressure and responsibility following Melo’s inevitable departure from Gotham.

The 22-year-old rising star retreated back to Europe this summer and returned to New York with a “fresh mind.”

Per the NY Daily News:

“I am ready for the challenge,” Porzingis told the Daily News in his first interview since returning to the United States on Saturday. “I’ve been preparing myself for this moment.”

 

There is also the matter of reports, including several from the Daily News that Porzingis’ relationship with Jeff Hornacek is on thin ice. Porzingis, who spoke to The News after he was spotted at a midtown eatery Sunday afternoon, declined to address the circumstances behind blowing off his end of the season meeting with Jackson, Hornacek and Steve Mills. The 22-year-old forward would only say, “Honestly, I would love for this year to be a new start. All I’m looking for is a fresh start and not to talk about that anymore.”

 

Porzingis, however, does stand by his decision to return to Latvia and workout on his own.

 

“It was important that I disconnected from everything,” he added. “I was working on my game and resting my mind. I kept working hard this summer to put myself in this position. I’m coming in with a fresh mind. I don’t want to carry anything from the previous season.”

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