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Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis not ruled out of starting 5

Kristaps Porzingis may have a long career with the Knicks, but whether he begins it as a starter is still unclear.David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images

Kristaps Porzingis may have a long career with the Knicks, but whether he begins it as a starter is still unclear.

While Kristaps Porzingis is confident in his ability to say “I belong here,” in the NBA it will be up to Derek Fisher to determine if the Knick rookie belongs in the starting lineup.

Fisher isn’t ruling out Porzingis as a starter, but a lot depends on whether Fisher elects to use Carmelo Anthony at power forward. Also, veterans Derrick Williams and Kyle O’Quinn are under consideration.

The Knicks, who did not practice on Sunday, play their preseason opener on Wednesday against Brazilian team Bauru.

“He can’t get a stamp of approval just yet in terms of what his role will be,” Fisher said of Porzingis. “But we drafted him No. 4, and I think we like what he is and what he can be.

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“I think he’s for sure in consideration, but he has to earn the right to be a guy that we can trust and that starts games every single night to start the season.”

The Knicks may be more inclined to take a more cautious approach with the 20-year-old Porzingis. For example, the club decided to keep Porzingis off the practice floor on Thursday and Friday after he reported feeling minor knee soreness. Porzingis was cleared to practice on the Knicks’ last day at West Point on Saturday,

“I did all the testing with our trainer before the practice,” Porzingis said. “Everything went well. I was 100%.”

Fisher is not opposed to frequently changing his starting five depending on matchups. When healthy, Anthony, Robin Lopez and Jose Calderon will be regulars and Arron Afflalo will likely start at shooting guard. Fisher has flexibility at the forward positions depending on where Anthony plays.

“Regardless of who our opponents are from night to night, I think we have the bodies to match up against teams defensively,” Fisher said. “If we need to be big and be physical we can do that. But with Carmelo and with Derrick Williams, and Cleanthony (Early) and Lance Thomas and guys at the wings, Arron can be a wing. We’ve got enough bodies to defend wing players.”

CARMELO ANTHONY: NO DOUBT I CAN STILL PLAY AT HIGH LEVEL

After losing a franchise record 65 games last season, Fisher may be reluctant to rely too heavily on an unproven rookie, especially over the first 20 games. A more likely scenario puts Porzingis as a backup, which would take some pressure off the Knicks’ highest draft pick since Patrick Ewing was selected No. 1 overall in 1985.

Porzingis was impressive in summer league and Fisher is interested to see how the rookie responds to playing against NBA veterans in preseason.

“The strengths and weaknesses, defensively, offensively, it’s a lot,” he said. “And the schedule is pretty intense as well. So you go from playing once or twice a week to three or four times a week. It’s a big change. But that’s what the preseason is for. We’ll have some moments where we love him; some where we don’t love him so much. That’s a part of everybody’s maturation. He’ll be fine, though. He enjoys having this job and I think he’s going to be good.”

ISIAH TALKS KNICKS

In an interview with ESPN, former Knicks president and head coach Isiah Thomas denied he has had conversations about the club with Garden chairman James Dolan. Thomas is currently the president of the WNBA’s Liberty.

“First of all, Phil Jackson is a great basketball mind, and the Knicks are in great hands,” Thomas said. “And Jim Dolan speaks to Phil Jackson about the New York Knicks, rightfully so.”

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kristaps porzingis ,
isiah thomas

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