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Kristaps Porzingis relieved he’s not on 76ers: ‘That would be tough’


Kristaps Porzingis expressed relief that the Philadelphia 76ers opted to draft Jahlil Okafor with the third-overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, a decision that allowed to fall into a much better situation with the New York Knicks when Phil Jackson and company took him with the next selection.

Porzingis and Okafor will square off for the first time — the Sixers rookie was serving a suspension at the time of the first meeting between New York and Philadelphia — at Wells Fargo Center on Friday night, providing the 20-year-old Knick the opportunity to contemplate what might have been.

Porzingis cited his experiences last year with Sevilla in the Spanish League — a team that struggled enough early on the head coach got fired — as evidence he understands in some respects how members of the 1-25 Sixers are going through right now.

“That would be tough,’’ he said at Knicks shootaround Friday morning, via the New York Post. “That’s basketball sometimes. Losing like that is very tough. I’ve been on a losing team last season, the first part of the season. It’s really tough. The negativity is always there. It’s not a good feeling. You mentally grow as you go through those tough times.’’

Porzingis, meanwhile, has inspired “Kristapsanity” among Knicks fans who were not only skeptical of the decision to draft the 7-foot-3 Latvian, but booed the selection.

Granted, the Knicks aren’t blowing the doors off this season, sitting at 12-14. But developing into a certifiable — but raw — budding superstar under the bright lights of the big city definitely is a welcome alternative to being with a team on pace to have the worst season in NBA history, out-losing the 1972-73 76ers squad that went 9-73.

“I’m in a really good situation,’’ he said. “Having veterans around me to help me out on and off the court. He’s in a tough situation. I’m sure he’ll find a way to make his team win and get better as a player and how to be smarter off the court.’’