If Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis has his way, Latvia will be competing without its best player. Instead, Kristaps Porzingis will be busy lifting weights and working on his conditioning in Greenburgh, New York. “If I had my choice, I think it’s obviously what I would want,” Rambis said Friday after the Knicks’ practice at Georgetown University. “I understand players’ commitments to their country and their desire to play for their country. But from a selfish standpoint, looking at it purely from a Knicks standpoint, yeah, we’d want him here working with us the whole time [in the summer].”
Porzingis said he has not made up his mind about playing in the qualifying tournament. “It’s still up in the air,” he said. “Right now, trying to focus on the season. Once the season is over, I will have some time to make a decision. Sit down with family and my agent. We’ll make that decision. It’s an important thing for Latvia. I’m a proud Latvian, and I want to represent my country. So I have to really think about it and make a decision.”
After Porzingis’s first few games with the Knicks, a campaign to create a nickname for him caught on in New York. “I’m loving when people stop and think about nicknames,” Puce said. “What kind of nicknames you are looking for? His surname is so unique.” This may be another reason he’s gone without a nickname in Latvia: he didn’t need one. “Nobody else in Latvia has the same last name. There’s just five of us,” Martins Porzingis, thirty, said, referring to his two brothers, Kristaps and Janis, who is thirty-three, and their parents. “When you say ‘Porzingis,’ it’s not about somebody else.” When Martins flew back to Latvia with his parents after the N.B.A. draft, the border-control official checked their passports and then paused. “Congratulations on the draft,” he said.