Kristaps Porzingis will play again in Madison Square Garden on Friday (6:30 p.m. CT) as a visitor, and maybe he is putting down the groundwork for a not-too-cruel reception when he says some nice things about a New York that New York doesn't often say about him.
“I miss this place,'' KP said of The Big Apple, where the 7-3 Latvian began his career before the 2019 blockbuster trade that sent him to the Dallas Mavs. "A lot of great memories. Every time I come back, it’s special. A lot of people here still recognize me and show me love and support.
"It’s always good to come back.”
Truthfully, though, Knicks fans view him as "the bad guy'' who engineered his way out of town after making an All-Star Game but also being limited by injuries.
“A lot of things happened — injury happened, ACL,” Porzingis said. “It was a tough one. I was out for a long time. Just a domino effect. Multiple things happened. And the end result was that.
“Who knows how we could’ve been if I didn’t get hurt. Multiple different situations could’ve happened. But it is what it is.''
What it is, is, Luke Doncic-led Dallas at 25-21 taking on a Knicks team at 24-24 trying to discontinue its floundering ... in a city where "floundering'' is, to the fan base, not an acceptable state.
“It’s a lot,” coach Rick Carlisle said of the Knicks atmosphere. “I spent time in New York, played a year and a half. New York is big. It’s Gotham. There’s a lot going on, a lot of media attention and scrutiny. I think KP has really learned to how to sift through and filter it the right way and concentrate on keeping himself ready and helping the team.”
KP is doing that in Dallas. In the last 17 games Porzingis is averaging 20.2 points and 9.8 rebounds while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from the arc.
“He’s been tremendous,” Carlisle said. “KP has had unique challenges but he’s a tough guy. He has taken it all on.''
And now he takes on New York. Again.
"(I'm) now in Dallas, my second year in Dallas,'' he said. "I do have great memories of New York and I do miss the city, I miss the fans. I had a great time there when I was there.”