The New York Knicks were riding a winning wave of emotion after the Carmelo Anthony fiasco. With one superstar gone, the Knicks felt comfort in knowing they had their next star waiting in the wings. Owner James Dolan and the Knicks’ faithful were willing to bet the house that Kristaps Porzingis was set to lead the team back to respectability.
However, that could all come to an end in 2019. What the Knicks are facing is the possibility of a rebuild with no leader in place. Porzingis can either stay or go after this season and the Knicks’ brass should be concerned.
The trouble started right before Anthony was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Porzingis took a liking to Carmelo and viewed him as a mentor on the court. But then-team president Phil Jackson and Dolan wanted Carmelo gone and were willing to do whatever it took, even if that meant going against their future face of the franchise.
It’s funny how time changes perspectives.
The Knicks got off to a good start in the 2017-18 season with Porzingis leading the way, but then it all crumbled. Porzingis went down with a season-ending injury, and the team never recovered. The Knicks would finish the year 29-53, missing the playoffs for the fifth straight year. But things could get worse.
Kristaps Porzingis is still rehabbing and earlier this year, Dolan said “I’ve been told everything from December to him being out for the season, so I don’t know what to expect on that,” per Larry Brooks of the New York Post.
If that were to hold true, then the Knicks are really screwed. With the team going in a new direction head coach-wise with David Fizdale, the team will need their on-court leader. The Knicks are dealing with so many issues that focusing on KP may not be at the top of the pile. But it should be.
The team is still identity searching with Enes Kanter leading the way, but more is desired. This offseason, the Knicks were not able to snag any of the big-name free agents and if Dolan proves to be a prophet, they may not get one in 2019, either. If there is no Porzingis, who will the Knicks latch their future too? Will it be Tim Hardaway, Trey Burke, Kevin Knox or Frank Ntilikina? The problem is, none of those names scream selling points for Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins or Kyrie Irving.
Could The New York Knicks Lose Kristaps Porzingis Next Summer?
Well, according to his brother, Janis Porzingis, K.P. will not base his free agent decision on money. That being said, the Knicks will need to pay him handsomely, and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they have to match an offer sheet next summer from another team interested in KP. He is a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019, per Spotrac.
Not signing Porzingis to a rookie-scale contract extension was a curious move, but the New York Knicks stuck to their guns in regards to that from a long-term perspective. Right before the season started, Knicks president Steve Mills had this to say on The Michael Kay Show (h/t ESPN’s Ian Bagley).
“We believe it was the smart move. But primarily because over the summer, Scott and I sat down with KP’s brother (Janis Porzingis, Kristaps’ agent) and talked about the different options that we have in front of us as it related to his extension. We were clear that the best option to make the Knicks a better team long term and have a better group of guys that KP can grow with long term was to not do the extension at this point. We think it ended up in a situation that’s best for the long-term view of the Knicks which ultimately will be the best in the long term view for KP because he’ll have a better team that he’ll be part of.”
The Knicks are taking one heck of a gamble here, which could blow up in their face. If Porzingis is not able to play this season, will Dolan and Mills be willing to give him a lucrative deal? And, will any players be willing to come to a team to play with a player who has been known to miss considerable time in his brief career?
What happens if a team like the Phoenix Suns or Sacramento Kings offer Kristaps Porzingis a huge deal the Knicks are not willing to match? Better yet, what if they do match, but Porzingis no longer has a desire to remain in New York?
Does one really believe that a core of Hardaway, Porzingis, Ntilikina, and Knox will challenge the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors any time soon? The Knicks need more and if they can’t hit a home run in free agency, then why keep him? Even so, the biggest fear is that they may wind up keeping a player who doesn’t want to be there.