New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis is unlikely to receive a contract extension before the end of Monday's deadline, turning the franchise player into a restricted free agent next summer, according to ESPN's Ian Begley.
The organization had been battling the idea of rewarding their fourth-year player with a contract extension, but Porzingis' season-ending torn ACL and a desire to keep as much flexibility open as possible for next summer's big free agency means no deal is coming.
Waiting on doling out this deal would give the team an additional $10 million in cap space for the coming offseason, though they’d still need to shed some salary to have enough money to offer a max contract to a player with at least seven years of service.
Due to Porzingis' 7-foot-3 frame, there is no clear timetable for his return, which has put him in danger of potentially missing the entire 2018-19 season.
The Knicks have been focused on reaping the most out of their young talent, tapping into lottery selection Kevin Knox and second-rounder Mitchell Robinson, two players who have shown plenty of promise.
As for Porzingis, the Knicks still possess the right to match any offer sheet that might come for him next summer. New York is capable of not only matching it, but topping it, given the control of his Bird rights.
The Knicks could take two different avenues here: quickly hammer out a deal with Porzingis on the first day of free agency and put the bidding to rest, or wait out a potential suitor to match the deal, saving flexibility on the way.
The latter option could upset Porzingis, whose representation has lauded him as the franchise cornerstone, expecting treatment as such during negotiations. Though, if the Knicks have the chance to sign a star in free agency to help Porzingis out, they shouldn't be too upset with a potential delay.