Forget about Kevin Durant or any other big-time free agents, the Knicks need to be careful they do not lose Kristaps Porzingis this offseason.
Per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, re-signing the 23-year-old is no sure thing and the Nets could potentially be the team to pry him away.
Because the Knicks decided to forgo an early contract extension with Porzingis last year, he will become a restricted free agent this summer.
Here are the Knicks’ options when it comes to Porzingis:
-Offer Porzingis a max contract of five years and about $157 million.
-Porzingis plays for the qualifying offer next season — a significant one-year paycut from the max — allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
-Knicks can offer a contract less than the max and with protections, like not fully guaranteeing contract in case of injury.
-Porzingis signs short-term deal with player option — allowing him to hit unrestricted free agency earlier.
-Signs offer sheet from another team, forcing Knicks’ hand.
While the Knicks could match any offer he receives from another team and offer him the most money in free agency with a max contract, Bondy notes money may not be the driving factor.
Porzingis wants to win and unless the Knicks do add someone like Durant to erase those doubts, he could conceivably leave.
The Nets are a team to keep an eye on regarding Porzingis because GM Sean Marks has a history of offering significant money to restricted free agents and is high on Porzingis, a source tells Bondy.
If the contract is for max money with no protections and a trade kicker, the Knicks will have to contemplate matching or perhaps resort to a sign-and-trade with another team, possibly the Clippers, Bondy suggests.