Knicks don’t extend qualifying offer to Precious Achiuwa, who will be an unrestricted free agent, per report

Written by on June 30, 2024

The New York Knicks did not extend a qualifying offer to Precious Achiuwa before Saturday’s deadline, as first reported by The Athletic’s Fred Katz, so the big man will become an unrestricted free agent. Achiuwa’s qualifying offer was worth $6.3 million, and while New York has reportedly not ruled out re-signing him, it decided not to jeopardize its salary-cap situation by giving him the option to simply sign a one-year deal for that amount.

After pulling off a blockbuster trade for Mikal Bridges, the Knicks will enter free agency with questions swirling about its center rotation. Can they figure out a way to re-sign unrestricted free agent Isaiah Hartenstein? Would Hartenstein’s return guarantee a Mitchell Robinson trade? If one of them leaves, will they sign a replacement? Could Achiuwa still be that replacement?

It’s unclear how all this will play out, and it’s still unclear exactly what the final version of the Bridges trade will look like. Since the deal won’t be official until after the free-agency moratorium, New York could potentially expand it. In fact, it would behoove the front office to do so, since the current construction will severely limit how much it can spend this coming season. 

Under the terms of the NBA’s new collective-bargaining agreement, since the Knicks are taking back more salary than they are sending out in the Bridges deal, they are hard-capped at $178.7 million (i.e. the first apron). If they expand it — say, by trading Robinson or signing-and-trading Achiuwa — then they will instead be hard-capped at $189.5 million (i.e. the second apron). That’s about $11 million in additional spending power.

Even if there were a 0% chance of a sign-and-trade involving Achiuwa, New York would still have reason to not extend him a qualifying offer. The Bridges trade guarantees that it will be dealing with some sort of hard cap, and while that $6.3 million would not be an outrageous salary for a backup center, it would take away from what little financial flexibility the team still has.

Achiuwa, by the way, was a helpful addition to the Knicks’ roster after being acquired from the Toronto Raptors with OG Anunoby in late December, particularly on the defensive end. He backed up Hartenstein for most of the remainder of the season with Robinson sidelined, and he even slid into the starting power forward spot when Anunoby was out of the lineup. Memorably, in Game 4 of New York’s first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Achiuwa played the entire fourth quarter, as coach Tom Thibodeau elected to go small and swarm Joel Embiid. The Knicks earned a grimy road win, with Achiuwa and Anunoby flying around and wreaking havoc.

It is possible that Achiuwa will re-sign and have more moments like that in a New York uniform. Now that he’s unrestricted, though, it’s less likely. And the Knicks have other stuff to sort out first.

The post Knicks don’t extend qualifying offer to Precious Achiuwa, who will be an unrestricted free agent, per report first appeared on CBS Sports.

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