The New York Knicks' decision to let the face of the franchise, Kristaps Porzingis, become a restricted free agent is believed to be part of their major plan in the summer of 2019. By waiting for the next offseason to give Porzingis a new deal, the Knicks will be putting themselves in a strong position to create enough salary cap space to offer a max contract to incoming free agent superstars like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, and Klay Thompson.
After successfully acquiring a second superstar, the Knicks are expected to give Kristaps Porzingis a five-year, $157 million contract. However, it seems like re-signing Porzingis to a max deal isn't really part of the Knicks' plan in the 2019 NBA free agency. According to Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News, the Knicks could be planning to give Porzingis the same contract extension Joel Embiid signed with the Philadelphia 76ers last year.
"In between the extremes, there's the Knicks offering less than the full max. Some around the league believe the team will try to include protections in the contract, meaning it wouldn't be fully guaranteed should Porzingis miss an allotted amount of games due to a specific injury. Joel Embiid's deal is structured in such a way. However, Porzingis views himself as a max player — as he should — and coming to the negotiating table with less risks discord, especially after letting it reach this point of restricted free agency. The Sixers extended Embiid's contract before he became a free agent."It's easy to understand why the Knicks would want to include protections in Kristaps Porzingis' next contract. Aside from tearing his ACL last season, Porzingis has suffered multiple injuries since 2015. However, receiving an offer less than what he thinks he deserves may have a negative effect on Porzingis' relationship with the Knicks' organization.
Another potential scenario in the 2019 NBA free agency is the Latvian center will receive an offer sheet from another team, which will force the Knicks to match. One of the NBA teams who is expected to express a strong interest in acquiring Kristaps Porzingis is the Brooklyn Nets. As Bondy noted, Nets General Manager Sean Marks is "high" on Porzingis and based on their history of chasing big names in the free agency market, Brooklyn won't think twice before giving him a max offer.
Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer also revealed that the San Antonio Spurs have a "significant interest" in Kristaps Porzingis. Unfortunately, the Spurs won't have enough salary cap space to join the pursuit for Porzingis next summer.