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Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis’ qualifying offer drops from $7.5 million to $4.5 million because of injury

Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks

Having missed his 42nd game of the season, New York Knicks unicorn Kristaps Porzingis will have his qualifying offer drop from $7.5 million to $4.5 million, according to ESPN Insider Bobby Marks. Even with that smaller net amount, the Knicks will still have a $17.1 million cap hold on the books before he signs any new deal.

Porzingis is eligible for a five-year, $158 million contract with a starting salary of $27.25 million for 2019-20 — a contract he will likely negotiate this summer with the Knicks’ front office.

The 7-foot-3 forward has been out of action since sustaining and ACL tear last February, still recovering from the injury and in danger to miss the entire season with the Knicks boasting the third-worst record in the league.

To maintain salary cap flexibility, New York will dangle this qualifying offer of $4.5 million to make him a restricted free agent instead of agreeing to an extension right away. If another team comes calling with a big offer sheet and Porzingis actually signs it, the Knicks would surely match given they have made it clear they want him to be the face of the franchise.

New York will also take a stab at some of the big free agents on the market. If they net one, Porzingis could ultimately be willing to negotiate a slightly smaller deal with the Knicks than the $158 million he’s due to make on a potential extension, for the sake of helping fill out the roster. New York may also try to work some injury protections into this contract. 

Porzingis has had his share of problems with the organization, mostly stemming from the Phil Jackson presidential regime. While the new front office of Steve Mills and Scott Perry has tried to change things, that trust has yet to be fully knit, and Porzingis could go the drastic route of playing on this $4.5 qualifying offer for one year before hitting unrestricted free agency the following summer.

But that would be a massive risk after this injury, especially at this lowered price tag. Expect Porzingis to get a massive deal from the Knicks when it’s all said and done.