Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis has missed 69 games since tearing his ACL last season. Friday's matchup against the Indiana Pacers will be Game No. 70, and that will impact his qualifying offer that could be his only route of becoming an unrestricted free agent sooner.
In missing his 42nd game of the 2018-19 season, Porzingis' qualifying offer would drop from $7.5 million to $4.5 million, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks.
The reason for the drop in Porzingis' qualifying offer is because Porzingis would need to meet the NBA's starter criteria, which requires any top-14 draft pick to play in at least 41 games or 2,000 minutes of that player's rookie contract.
The Knicks can offer the 23-year-old Porzingis, who will be a restricted free agent, a five-year, $158 million contract this summer with a starting salary of $27.25 million, which would lock him up as a Knick until the 2023-24 season.
Porzingis' cap hit would be $17.1 million, according to Marks, which would allot the Knicks more cap space to sign a max free agent, something team president Steve Mills said in September would benefit the team in the future.
But if he rejects the contract extension and signs the qualifying offer, sacrificing $22.75 million in the process, that would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020.
Porzingis, an All-Star who averaged 22.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in 48 games last season, has not played since Feb. 6, 2018, when he suffered a torn ACL trying to dunk on Giannis Antetkounmpo in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Knicks have said he has made good progress in his recovery but wouldn't be re-evaluated until mid-February.
His rehab has included sprinting and shooting 3-pointers, however as Porzingis approaches the 11-month mark from surgery, which underwent Feb. 13, 2018, the team does not have a definitive return date set, and there is the possibility he could miss the entire 2018-19 season.
Porzingis had previously expressed his fondness for New York and his desire to remain a Knick, and that was before they hired David Fizdale. Though the Knicks are tied with the Bulls for the third-worst record in the NBA at 10-31, the team has hoped he'll be the franchise player for the next five years, at least.
It's up to him this summer if he wants to sign the five-year deal.