Kristaps Porzingis Will Play for Latvia in 2017 EuroBasket

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2017

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 31: Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks handles the ball during the game against the Miami Heat on March 31, 2017 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis will play for Latvia in the 2017 EuroBasket championship, he announced at a press conference Monday.

Andrejs Silins of Sportacentrs.com was on hand at the press conference.

Porzingis, 21, did not play for the Latvian national team either of the last two summers so that he could prepare for the NBA season. He averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game as one of the few bright spots in a lost Knicks campaign.  

"Rookie season was more interesting, and feeling-wise there was a lot more positivity," Porzingis said, per Silins. "Last season was a lot harder, but I learned a lot from it." 

Latvia, tied for 35th in the FIBA rankings, finished eighth in the 2015 EuroBasket tournament. Porzingis and Co. will have a tough time making it out of their pool, as they rank fifth among the Group D teams that will play in Istanbul beginning in August. Their group also includes Serbia (third), Turkey (eighth), Russia (ninth), Great Britain (22nd) and Belgium (44th).

"We are in super tough group in EuroBasket," Porzingis acknowledged, per Silins.

Playing in EuroBasket means Porzingis will spend most, if not all, of his summer away from the team in New York. Ian Begley of ESPN.com reported Porzingis skipped the Knicks' exit meetings over his displeasure with the franchise's direction—specifically its inability to form a coherent plan on the court or in the front office.

The Knicks have gone back and forth on their use of the Triangle offense each of the last two seasons and now appear ready to rebuild a summer after adding expensive veteran pieces (Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee).

Porzingis has developed into a budding star almost in spite of what's going on around him; spending a summer away could wind up being the best thing for him.

For more news, rumors and related stories about Kristaps Porzingis, the New York Knicks and the NBA, check out the NBA and Knicks streams on Bleacher Report's app.

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