New York Knicks rumors 2016: Kristaps Porzingis focuses on improving game, to miss playing for Latvia in Olympic qualifier

(Wikimedia Commons/Keith Allison)The New York Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis attacking the rim in a game versus the Washington Wizards.

New York Knicks rookie big man Kristaps Porzingis will miss playing for Latvia in the Olympic qualifying tournament. He aims to return much better next season. 

According to ESPN, Porzingis made the announcement on Monday during a news conference in Latvia. 

Porzingis was one of the rookies who truly shined during the 2015–16 National Basketball Association (NBA) regular season. He helped the Knicks become better. Unfortunately, they still struggled to reach the playoffs, finishing 13th in the Eastern Conference with a 32–50 record. In 72 games played (all starts), the 20-year-old averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.9 blocks. 

Along with the numbers, Porzingis also provided numerous highlight plays which gave fans a glimpse of the future. 

Despite having an excellent rookie season, Porzingis seeks to improve. He chose to work with Knicks coaches and training staff, instead of representing Latvia. But according to ESPN, a source said that the decision was not an "easy one."

The report also mentioned the goal of Porzingis which is to gain weight, but at the same time become more "athletic" and "quicker" in order to have the ability to guard all positions when the Knicks switch to defense. 

"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," Porzingis stated.

However, the preparation of Porzingis will not be complete until the Knicks hire a head coach. Currently, the franchise is still searching for a new main man on the sidelines.

In the regular season, Derek Fisher was fired after failing to guide New York to a winning record. Fisher was replaced by experienced assistant Kurt Rambis who was appointed as the interim head coach, and is still one of the candidates considered for the permanent head coaching job.