When the New York Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony, Latvian center Kristaps Porzingis officially became the new face of the franchise. Since being drafted in 2015, Porzingis continues to show an impressive performance on both ends of the floor, and as of now, there’s no doubt that he’s taking the right path to becoming a legitimate NBA superstar in the league.
Last season, Kristaps Porzingis averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks on 43.9 percent shooting from the field and 39.5 percent from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, he only played 48 games in his third year after suffering an ACL injury. So far, Porzingis has shown a huge improvement in his rehabilitation, but he is still expected to miss the most of the 2018-19 NBA season.
According to Ian Begley of ESPN, the Monday’s deadline passed with Kristaps Porzingis not receiving a rookie extension from the Knicks. The move is quite expected as the Knicks are planning to chase a big name in the summer of 2019. The 2019 NBA free agency will be loaded with several NBA superstars like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, DeAndre Jordan, and DeMarcus Cousins.
As Begley noted, the Knicks’ decision not to give Kristaps Porzingis a contract extension helped them save $10 million in salary cap space.
“By waiting until the summer to negotiate an extension with Porzingis, who is currently rehabbing from ACL surgery, New York is closer to having enough cap space for a max player. The club also waived Joakim Noah and stretched the $19.3 million he is owed in 2019-20, the final season of his contract, to create more cap space for next summer. New York projects to have $31 million in room next summer. The room does not factor in the salary owed to its 2019 first-round pick or the free-agent hold of Enes Kanter, who is in the final year of his contract.”
Kristaps Porzingis to become a restricted free agent next summer after failing to reach extension with Knicks.
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) October 15, 2018
The Knicks will be needing to make another transaction to open more salary cap space since the max contract for a player with 7-9 years of service is $32.7 million and $38.15 million for a player with 10-plus years of experience. Despite failing to reach a contract extension, Knicks President Steve Mills strongly believes that Kristaps Porzingis is on board with the direction they are taking.
Kristaps Porzingis will surely receive plenty of interest when the 2019 NBA free agency hits next July, but the Knicks only need to match offers from other NBA teams just to bring him back. Pairing Porzingis with another NBA superstar will give the Knicks’ a higher chance of fully dominating the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference.