Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks let the deadline pass without reaching an agreement regarding a contract extension. The move is somewhat expected since it will help the Knicks save money for the summer of 2019 where they are planning to chase big names who will be available on the market. The 2019 NBA free agency will be featuring several NBA superstars such as Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeAndre Jordan.
Deciding not to give Kristaps Porzingis a contract extension doesn’t necessarily mean that the Knicks will let him walk away next summer. Ian Begley of ESPN revealed that Porzingis and his camp are cooperative with the Knicks’ plan to preserve their salary cap flexibility in order to add another talented player that could help them become more competitive in the Eastern Conference. After acquiring their target free agent, the Knicks’ next priority is bringing Porzingis back to the fold.
If he proves that he’s 100 percent recovered from injury, Kristaps Porzingis will be re-signed to the Knicks for a five-year, $158 million contract, predicts Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report.
“Assuming his rehab progresses normally, Porzingis will still be in line to collect. Expect the Knicks to extend a qualifying offer next summer, keeping KP and his $17.1 million cap hold on the books while they throw around some cash in free agency. After making their play on the market, the Knicks will circle back to Porzingis with a five-year maximum deal. Chances are no other team will even make an offer; you can’t tie up that much cap space when the player’s incumbent team seems certain to match.”
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
Giving Kristaps Porzingis a maximum contract is a no-brainer for the Knicks. In his first three seasons in the NBA, the 23-year-old Latvian center continues to improve his performance on both ends of the floor and prove that he deserves to be the face of the Knicks’ franchise. Before suffering an injury last season, 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.
Pairing him with a legitimate NBA superstar will undeniably make the Knicks a significant team once again in the league. While waiting for Porzingis to recover, the Knicks are currently focused on improving their young core of Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson. So far, Porzingis has reportedly shown a massive improvement in his rehabilitation, but the Knicks have not made an announcement when he will officially return to the court.