GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis wants to focus on the present instead of talking about the drama of the recent past, including his decision to skip an exit meeting with team management at the end of last season.
"I'm coming into this season with a fresh mind. It's a new season. I want to leave what happened, I want to leave it in the past," he said Monday when asked if he was still angry with the organization. "The past is the past. I don't want to talk about that no more. I want to talk about this season. I'm just excited to be here."
Team sources said Porzingis skipped the exit meeting with then-Knicks president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills over frustration regarding the dysfunction and drama surrounding the organization. The team finished 31-51 and missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
On Monday -- the first day that players met with the media in preparation for the 2017-18 season -- Porzingis said he was confident in the team's new management and direction. Mills is now team president and Scott Perry is GM.
"I have faith in those people and I believe they want us to grow," Porzingis said. "They want for me to be in a position where I can succeed. I'm excited. A lot of new things are happening. A lot of new people are here. There's going to be a lot of changes. I'm coming in, as I said, with a fresh mind. I'm looking forward to this season."
Porzingis, 22, will be the face of the Knicks' franchise now that Carmelo Anthony has been traded to Oklahoma City. Porzingis said he looks forward to being a leader and that he expects to make the All-Star team after averaging 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game last season.
He also said he was "grateful" for the opportunity to learn from Anthony in his first two NBA seasons.
"He was a great leader for us. He was a great mentor for me," Porzingis said. "He was like a big brother to me. So I'm really thankful for him being around me. I have nothing but respect for Carmelo and I wish him the best in the future."
He added that playing without Anthony will create different challenges this season.
"He took a lot of pressure off of everybody. We all understand that. He was always the No. 1 focal point for the other team," he said. "I realize that. And now I'm going to be one of those guys that other teams are going to focus on."
Porzingis also disputed reports that he and head coach Jeff Hornacek have a fractured relationship.
"I have a great relationship with him. I wouldn't know where it all comes from," he said.
Porzingis is part of a young core that Knicks management hopes to build around in the wake of the Anthony trade. The Knicks have six potential rotation players who are younger than 26, including Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott, who were acquired in the Anthony trade. New York also has all of its first-round draft picks going forward.
Porzingis was asked if he drew optimism from the idea that so many Eastern Conference stars, including Anthony, have defected to the Western Conference this season via free agency or trade.
"I think that's kind of a losing mentality if you're hoping for the conference to get worse so you can make the playoffs," he said. "No matter what's going on in the East or West, we have to try to be the best team we can."