NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — You gotta play, man.
That was the sentiment Knicks legend Walt Frazier shared on a Bay Area radio station prior to the team’s 123-112 loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors late Tuesday night.
The target? Kristaps Porzingis.
“He’s on the threshold of greatness, but you got to go against the Warriors, man,” Frazier said on 95.7 The Game during Golden State’s pregame show. “We’ve played against some elite teams this year, and he hasn’t been ready to play.”
Porzingis sat out Tuesday night with what the team termed left “knee irritation.”
“You can’t be injured against those type of teams,” Frazier said prior to the loss. “The team needs him. You’re an All-Star, you’ve just been voted to the All-Star team, man, come on, go out and show the Warriors why.”
While few doubt Porzingis’ ability or his potential to be a superstar in the NBA, he has missed a lot of games over his first two-plus seasons, often with ailments not always seen as serious.
The 22-year-old Latvian has played in 41 of the Knicks’ 48 games this season, after missing 16 of 82 last season, and 10 overall as a rookie in 2015-16.
Earlier this month, Porzingis complained of “fatigue” in the wake of being asked to do a lot more due to the absence of scorer Tim Hardaway Jr.
“I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m so tired right now,’’ Porzingis said following the Knicks’ loss in Washington on Jan. 3. “I have one day to rest my legs and get back and play better and have more energy and try to bring the team’s energy up. We’re in a tough stretch. The mental part doesn’t help at all. When it’s mentally tough, you don’t have it in you.’’
Porzingis is averaging 23.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, while shooting nearly 44 percent from the floor. The Knicks (21-27) are currently four games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.