Kristaps Porzingis looking forward to guarding Carmelo Anthony in opener

ByIan Begley via ESPN logo
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- As the New York Knicks prepare to open their season against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kristaps Porzingis says he's happy to see ex-teammate Carmelo Anthony take on a "new challenge."

"For myself, I wanted him to stay [in New York], and to play with him and learn from him and so on," Porzingis said Tuesday. "But from the other side, I understand that he needed a new challenge in his career and he wants to win a championship one day, so I'm happy for him. He's in an environment where he might be able to do that soon."

Anthony was traded from the Knicks to the Thunder shortly before the start of training camp, ending a nearly seven-season run in New York. The Knicks and Thunder open the season against each other Thursday.

Porzingis said it will be "weird" to face Anthony for the first time as an opponent. He's preparing to guard Anthony, who plays power forward for the Thunder, if the matchup presents itself.

"I think everybody knows what he's doing but nobody can stop him," Porzingis said. "It's going to be a challenge for me. I'm going to do my best."

Porzingis was asked Tuesday if he's watched any tape to prepare for his potential matchup.

"I watched him every day for two years. I know what he does, how he can score," Porzingis said. "If there was an answer to what he's doing and how to defend that, that would be nice. But there's no film I can watch and say, 'Now I know how to guard this.' So I'm going to try to use my length as much as I can."

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said he expects the 7-foot-3 Porzingis to defend Anthony, who is 6-8.

"(Porzingis) knows his game; Carmelo knows his," Horncek said. " It's going to be a good battle."

The Knicks, after trading Anthony and severing ties with Phil Jackson, are in a rebuilding mode.

The franchise hopes to develop a young core that includes Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina and big man Willy Hernangomez. The club also hopes that it can avoid the drama that developed during Jackson's tenure, which was often centered around the Jackson/Anthony dynamic.

Expectations are low for New York entering its first season without Anthony. One Las Vegas sports book pegged the over-under for wins in New York at 29.5.

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