Walt Frazier: Knicks in 'Quagmire' over Kristaps Porzingis' Injury Uncertainty

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13:  Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks is welcomed back after tearing his ACL previously in the season prior to taking on the Dallas Mavericks during their game at Madison Square Garden on March 13, 2018 in New York City. 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.  (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

New York Knicks legend and color commentator Walt "Clyde" Frazier expressed some doubt that a max contract extension for Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis is a formality.

Speaking to ESPN.com's Ian Begley, Frazier said the team is "in a real quagmire" about Porzingis since he suffered a torn ACL in February.

"The Knicks have been burned so often with paying guys and then they don't produce," Frazier said. "Will [Porzingis] return to his normal form? It's tough to tell."

To some extent, the worry over Porzingis has merit. Begley noted the 2018 All-Star is unlikely to return before December, and Knicks owner James Dolan raised the possibility of him missing the entire 2018-19 season.

Derrick Rose is likely to be cautionary tale in terms of how a major knee injury can have significant long-term consequences for even the brightest of young talents. Jabari Parker is another example on a slightly lesser scale.

And unlike most franchises, the Knicks aren't necessarily in a position to where they have to re-sign Porzingis regardless of the cost and risk.

New York City is one of the biggest media markets in the NBA. If the Knicks can show they're headed in a positive direction—which is a big if after the past few years—then the franchise can compete for the biggest free agents and trade targets with or without Porzingis.

The 22-year-old is set to be a restricted free agent in 2019, so him missing the entire season is the worst-case scenario for the Knicks; they wouldn't have any idea what kind of player he'll be post-ACL injury.

Ultimately, the odds are the Knicks re-sign Porzingis. He's 7'3" and a 36.1 percent shooter from three-point range. He was averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks before getting hurt, and there aren't many players in the league who possess his overall potential.

It may behoove New York to get Porzingis under contract before he hits free agency. That way, the team could pursue injury protections in his extension similar to those the Philadelphia 76ers received in Joel Embiid's max deal last fall.