New York Knicks: Cheaper qualifying offer should keep Kristaps Porzingis

New York Knicks Kristaps Porzingis (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks Kristaps Porzingis (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With Kristaps Porzingis’ lesser qualifying offer, it should provide the New York Knicks a greater avenue to keep their face of the franchise.

Kristaps Porzingis‘ impending restricted free agency became a topic months ago, around the time he suffered a torn left ACL in February 2018. Almost one year later, he remains out for the New York Knicks, who sit 10-32.

As a restricted free agency, the Knicks can match any offer sheet Porzingis signs. That alone should guarantee his return to the franchise for four years — five if the front office hands him a deal without waiting on another team.

Alternatively, if Porzingis wanted to bet on himself, he can sign a qualifying offer. Before the Knicks’ 41st game, it was worth $7.5 million. However, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, with missing his 42nd game, it’s now $4.5 million.

In the meantime, when the offseason arrives, Porzingis’ cap hold will be $17.3 million. He can sign a five-year, $158 million contract that starts at a salary of $27.5 million.

Maybe Porzingis bravely takes a chance on himself and hits unrestricted free agency, but then he puts his knee at risk for $153.5 million, all of which potentially arrives guaranteed. That should make the Knicks breathe easier for returning their 2015 draft pick.

Players have gambled on themselves before. Sometimes it works, but the cases of it not stand prominently, featuring Isaiah Thomas‘ hip injury in 2017 nearly destroyed his 2017-18 run, has kept him out for all of 2018-19 so far, and ended his hopes of a lucrative eight-figure contract.

Porzingis is also six years younger than Thomas and can potentially heal quicker, but that’s still a daunting risk to take with the former’s career still in its infancy.

The Knicks may face other teams that have interest, but does any of it matter? Probably not. Forbes’ Tommy Beer outlined something similar. It would be unprecedented for him to avoid outside teams’ offers and the extension president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry present, instead playing on the aforementioned qualifying offer. Then it’s time to hit the panic button.

That’s at the opposite end of the spectrum, however. The Knicks, despite Porzingis’ delicate injury, should have him locked in for the next four-to-five years. If not, it will be as surprising as anything over the past two decades.

The only other part to watch is if New York lets Porzingis return before 2018-19 closes. He’s due for a re-evaluation in February, but with this team’s placement near the bottom of the standings, there’s another decision to make on the worth of a return.

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With even fewer dollars to play for on a qualifying offer, Porzingis should return to the New York Knicks on a larger, multi-year deal. It’s down to whether it becomes a four or five-year contract.