Once considered the centerpiece of the New York Knicks’ future, star big man Kristaps Porzingis is at a crossroad with the organization.
The 23-year-old, who is currently recovering from a torn ACL suffered last February, will be a restricted free agent this summer after the Knicks opted not to offer him a contract extension in October.
The reasoning was somewhat understandable, though it has put Knicks management in a precarious situation. Opting not to work out an extension with Porzingis at the start of the 2018-19 season allowed them to save up more cap space for legitimate runs at star free agents this upcoming summer. Then New York would revisit securing Porzingis for the foreseeable future.
But the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy has raised the notion of whether Porzingis should even consider committing his future to the Knicks, especially as team president Steve Mills “backs off his declaration,” to make a big splash in July.
While Porzingis could be sidelined for the entirety of his fourth season, the reality of the matter is that he hasn’t come close to playing for a contending team. Since drafting Porzingis, the Knicks are 101-183 and on their fourth-different head coach in David Fizdale.
Bondy has noted that Porzingis wants to win soon and the indication that Mills might not be all-in for a star like Kevin Durant in free agency could force the Latvian forward to make matters into his own hand.
If the Knicks and Porzingis can get on the same page during restricted free agency this summer, he can sign a five-year max deal worth approximately $157 million. If he opts not to and sets himself up for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2020, the Knicks will likely consider trading him.
Should he wish to force the Knicks’ hand this summer, he could sign an offer sheet from another team. It would force New York to match the deal within 48 hours or else he’s gone.
That’s where the Brooklyn Nets come in, according to Bondy. General manager Sean Marks holds Porzingis in high esteem and has a track record of going after restricted free agents including Otto Porter Jr., Tyler Johnson, Donatas Motiejunas, and Allen Crabbe.
If the Nets are unable to pick up a big-name unrestricted free agent this summer seeing as they have max-salary roster slots available, Marks could go all-in on Porzingis as a major consolation prize. That presents the opportunity for the Knicks to match or execute a sign-and-trade to ensure they don’t lose him for nothing.