Now that star forward Carmelo Anthony has been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the New York Knicks are Kristaps Porzingis's team.
That's a lot of pressure on the young big man, who will now be counted on to turn around the fortunes of a franchise that has been stuck in neutral for several years.
However, as the preseason gets underway, the front office is making it clear that Porzingis's teammates need to do their parts, too.
According to ESPN's Ian Begley, New York general manager Scott Perry said the pressure isn't entirely on Porzingis's shoulders heading into this season:
"I never want to put that much pressure on one individual," Perry said. "He knows that he needs every one of his teammates to help this team be successful."
Perry added that the Knicks want to get Porzingis some help in the very near future to get back to a team that can compete for the playoffs:
"[We want to be] very aggressive in trying to make this team as competitive as possible as quick as we can," he said. "But we want to do it the right way."
Right now, making big-time trades and signing top free agents may not be in the Knicks' future, as they need to get out from under some bad contracts before they can make big changes.
Fortunately for Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina - the Knicks' 2017 first-round NBA Draft pick - has impressed coach Jeff Hornacek. The coach told NorthJersey.com that the young point guard is already turning heads:
“I think the surprising thing for me as a coach is how knowledgable he is of the game and how he reads things,” Hornacek said. “You saw some of his raw talent, you saw his length on tape. But when you’re here watching him play every day, seeing the plays that he makes, finding the mismatches and getting the ball to that guy quickly.
"He comes down the court and he realizes this guy didn’t get a shot maybe the last three or four times, he seems to call a play that fits right there. It’s probably something he’s not even thinking about it, it’s just natural. That’s something not many guys have that, so that’s what’s been impressive.”
If Ntilikina and Porzingis can find some chemistry early in this season, the Knicks have a chance to improve on last year's record. However, not having Melo on the team will hurt, but Porzingis now has a chance to prove he deserves to lead a team.