ORLANDO, Fla. — In the days leading up to free agency, members of the New York Knicks‘ front office told people that their priorities were to find a veteran point guard to help groom rookie Frank Ntilikina and to put together a younger roster without overspending on free agents.
To that end, they’ve been trying in recent days to unload some salary to make a competitive offer to a veteran point guard. According to sources, their top target at the moment is Utah Jazz free agent George Hill.
New York made its interest in Hill previously known but didn’t reach out to the 31-year-old in the early hours of free agency, per sources. (Sources say the Denver Nuggets were among the teams to reach out to Hill.)
The Knicks also had interest in trading for Ricky Rubio, but the point guard was dealt from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Jazz in exchange for a protected first-round pick. The Knicks, according to a source, were unwilling to give up a first-round pick for Rubio, and it appears general manager Steve Mills is continuing an edict that originated with former team president Phil Jackson.
To that end, the Knicks and Houston Rockets touched base recently on a trade involving Anthony, per league sources, but talks didn’t gain much traction. One name that came up in discussions was Ryan Anderson, per sources. But the Knicks said at that time they weren’t interested in Anderson, who has been shopped around by the Rockets. Anthony has a no-trade clause and his estranged wife, La La Anthony, said recently Anthony’s priority would be to remain close to his son, Kiyan.
But the Rockets would seem to be an attractive destination for the 33-year-old Anthony because of the presence of good friend Chris Paul, particularly after Houston missed out on Paul George. George’s trade to Oklahoma City probably strengthens the market for Anthony.
It would not be a surprise if both Boston and Cleveland showed interest. The Knicks reportedly will not commit to trading Anthony, though, until they hire a new executive to replace Jackson.
Would Anthony want to reunite with coach Mike D’Antoni in Houston? According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the bad ending for D’Antoni and Anthony in New York wouldn’t prevent Carmelo from joining Houston.
The Knicks also re-signed free agent point guard Ron Baker on Friday night. Terms of Baker’s deal were unavailable, but people in touch with the Knicks expected them to use an exception to sign Baker. The Knicks will have access to the $ 4.3 million room exception and the $ 3.2 million biannual exception.
They also project to have $ 14.9 million in salary-cap space, a number that increased after the club decided to waive Maurice Ndour. That number assumes the Knicks will renounce their rights to Derrick Rose. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, New York still has some interest in re-signing Rose.
The Knicks also inquired about Sacramento Kings swingman Ben McLemore, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes. They also reached out to Phoenix Suns restricted free agent Alan Williams on the first night of free agency, league sources told ESPN. Williams, a 6-foot-8 power forward, averaged 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds last season in 15.1 minutes. Williams fits the profile of a player the Knicks are targeting: young and able to play on both ends of the floor.
Strange explanation on Longstaff: Coach Jeff Hornacek said the Knicks don’t have a plan to replace ex-assistant coach Josh Longstaff, who played a lead role in the Knicks’ player development.
“We have coaches who have played in the league a long time, and they were very successful,” Hornacek said. “We’ve already discussed about different times making player development as a part of the practice so we’re going to let those guys expertise help out on that part of it.”
Most teams around the NBA have individual instruction for players outside of team practice hours and it seems, for some reason, that the Knicks are going away from this trend. This is something worth noting as the Knicks look to go younger. Will this development approach work? It’s certainly uncommon. Longstaff was a favorite of many of the younger players on the roster, including Kristaps Porzingis. The organization as a whole had put a strong emphasis on developing younger players over the past few years like Porzingis, Baker, Lance Thomas, Langston Galloway, Willy Hernangomez and Mindaugas Kuzminskas.
Will this new approach to development be as effective as the old approach? That remains to be seen. If not, the club has certainly left itself open to questioning…. The Knicks’ Summer League opener against Dallas on Saturday – and all Summer League games thereafter – will be televised by the MSG Network.