3:37pm: Porzingis has yet to make any formal decisions on his future with the Mavs, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
3:31pm: With the Mavericks and Knicks in the process of finalizing a trade that will send Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas, Shams Charania of The Athletic has provided another fascinating detail. According to Charania (Twitter link), Porzingis intends to inform the Mavs that he plans to sign his qualifying offer as a restricted free agent this summer.
In order to make a player a restricted free agent, a team must submit a one-year qualifying offer to that player. This QO serves as a placeholder one-year contract offer, which the player can accept if he wants to. Accepting a qualifying offer puts the player on track to reach unrestricted free agency the following year, but typically pays him far less than he’d receive on a multiyear contract.
In Porzingis’ case, because he has failed to meet the “starter criteria” this season (by making at least 41 starts or playing 2,000+ minutes), his qualifying offer will be worth just $4.5MM. By comparison, a maximum-salary offer from the Mavericks would be worth a projected $27.25MM in 2019/20 and approximately $158MM over five years.
While Porzingis could potentially cash in with a huge payday in 2020, playing on a one-year, $4.5MM deal next year would be a huge gamble for a young player coming off ACL surgery. If he thrives next season, he’d be in position to reach the open market in ’20 and choose his destination without any restrictions, but if he struggles at all or battles more injuries, his long-term value could take a major hit.
It appears the Mavericks are comfortable going through with the trade despite not having any long-term assurances from Porzingis, which makes sense. The franchise likely figures it can use the next year and a half to convince the 23-year-old to stay in Dallas long-term. If he ultimately leaves, the cost – Dennis Smith Jr., plus the expiring contracts of Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan and a future first-rounder – wasn’t too damaging, and the Mavs would be in position to open up a massive amount of cap room in 2020.
Assuming the Mavs and Knicks make their deal official and Porzingis informs Dallas of his summer plans, this will be a fascinating story to watch in the coming months, as there’s no guarantee the big man won’t re-think his stance.
The Mavs could potentially point to Nerlens Noel – who signed his qualifying offer with Dallas after turning down a reported four-year, $70MM offer from the club, then had to settle for a minimum-salary contract the following year – as a cautionary tale during their discussions with Porzingis.