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New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis Will Pass on Latvian Olympic Qualifiers
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2 May 2016 03:31 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: New York Knicks Kristaps Porzingis drives against the Brooklyn Nets. (Image Source: Elsa/Getty Images)

New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis has announced on Monday that he will not play for Latvia in the Olympic qualifying tournament, which will be held this summer in early July.

Basically, Porzingis is putting team over country. He will remain in the United States to work with the Knicks coaches and the team’s training staff over the summer instead. This was not an easy decision for the Latvian.

"My heart is saying you should go and play for your country, you should represent your country," Porzingis said last month (per ESPN.com). "At the same time, with my head, I'm understanding this is a big offseason for me and I really want to work individually."

Coming off a strong rookie season, the 20-year old Porzingis understands he has a lot of work to do if he’s going to reach his full potential. The Knick told the New York Post last month that he is looking to put on around 10-13 pounds in hopes of bulking up to about 245 pounds before next season.

"Not only putting on weight and being big, but being more athletic, quicker, being able to guard smaller guys when we switch," Porzingis said last month. "I want to be the guy who can be last quarter on the court as the 5-man and be able to guard everybody and switch with everybody. That's how basketball is these days."

This is a big offseason for Porzingis who has quickly become the centerpiece of New York’s future.

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: danmogollon@gmail.com.

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