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Stefan Bondy: Sean Marks is ‘high on Kristaps Porzingis’

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New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Well, isn’t this special?

Stefan Bondy, in a lengthy discussion of why Kristaps Porzingis may not be a done deal for the Knicks next July, signals that the Unicorn could interest the Nets.

Bondy writes:

[W]atch out for the Brooklyn Nets. Sean Marks, the team’s GM, is high on Porzingis, according to a source, and has a history of offering big money to restricted free agents.

It would take a number of things coalescing, but Bondy’s main point is that Porzingis wants to win and the Knicks are nowhere near that goal and seem to have prioritized tanking. Moreover, Brooklyn is a stable, functioning organization while the Knicks, Bondy points out, have had four head coaches since they drafted Porzingis in 2015.

How might it work? Bondy concedes Porzingis is a restricted free agent and the Knicks can match any offer the Nets make. Still, the question is whether the Knicks would offer Porzingis the max, low-ball him, wait to see what other teams offer or seek a sign-and-trade.

If the Nets finds themselves out of the running for the top unrestricteds this summer, a smart move would be to throw everything at Porzingis — a max contract with a trade kicker and no protections — while hoping he signs it as quickly as possible.

The Knicks would then have 48 hours to match, but, at that point, they’d have contemplate whether a sign-and-trade is the better course. The Clippers will also have the cap space to make a play.

Porzingis would lose about $30 million if he chose that option, the difference between a five-year deal the Knicks could offer and a four-year any other team —the Nets or Clippers— could give him.

And indeed, there have been signals that the 23-year-old hasn’t been happy with the way he’s been treated by Dolan & Co. After he went down with a torn ACL last season, the Knicks decided not to offer him an extension until they see how he recovers ... and as Porzingis himself has noted, there is no recovery protocol for a 7’3” who suffered a torn ACL. Still, Porzingis became the first NBA player on a rookie contract who wasn’t offered a contract extension after making an All-Star team.

Despite the hopes of the Knicks fan base —as well as ownership and management, Porzingis has yet to say the magic words about committing to New York. Bondy quotes what Porzingis said prior to training camp ... which contained no endorsement.

“Every new season, there’s good and positive energy. It’s when things go south you have to stay mentally strong and push forward,” Porzingis said before training camp. “It is new faces and good energy. That’s all I can say for now.”

Since then, Porzingis and the Knicks have had some sparring over his injury. In early November, Fizdale said Porzingis was doing light running -- but not sprinting -- in his rehab.

Porzingis went on Instagram, posting two pictures of himself sprinting on an outdoor track. Fizdale had to back track

Bondy suggests that other than Porzingis signing a five-year deal on July 6, there are a lot of possibilities, none of which may appeal to both sides, giving a team with cap space an opportunity. One possibility is that the Knicks will offer Porzingis less than the max. The team may try to include protections in the contract, Bondy suggested, meaning the contract wouldn’t be fully guaranteed should Porzingis miss games due to a specific injury.

Porzingis also could decline to sign a big deal and instead play for the qualifying offer — $7.5 million over one year. Bondy believes that would push the Knicks to offer Porzingis in a sign-and-trade. It would also be a big risk for Porzingis.

What might the Nets do if indeed, they wanted Porzingis, who is indeed a risk? Marks has inserted a number of sweeteners in his offer sheets to Tyler Johnson, Allen Crabbe, Donatas Montiejunas and especially Otto Porter Jr.

The Porter offer sheet included a maximum contract, a maximum trade kicker, a player option in the fourth year and a provision that would require that he be paid upfront each year of the deal. If the Knicks want protections, might the Nets offer a deal without protections?

Of course, the Nets already have a Latvian on the roster, mini-Unicorn Rodions Kurucs. At the Nets post-draft press conference back in June, Kurucs said he had only met Porzingis once and that the two had never played with each other ... or against each other. And yes, he said he’d beat Porzingis ass when they did meet. If Bondy’s speculation is correct, he may not have to.