ORLANDO, Fla. — Derrick Rose could be playing for a team closer to home.
The Knicks free-agent point guard was scheduled to meet with the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, according to ESPN. The Bucks are a rising young team and Milwaukee is a quick drive from Rose’s native Chicago.
That’s important to Rose, who left the Knicks unannounced in January and flew home to Chicago. He didn’t respond to texts or calls from team officials, then called it a personal matter and said he needed to be with his mother.
The Knicks were expected to try to re-sign Rose, especially when Phil Jackson was in charge. He traded for the former MVP in June 2016. But Jackson and the Knicks parted ways last week, changing the direction of the franchise.
They haven’t been active in free agency. Their lone move has been to bring back Ron Baker on a two-year deal. Justin Holiday, whom the Knicks wanted to re-sign, reached a two-year, $9-million deal with the Bulls on Sunday. A league source said the Knicks never made a formal offer.
The Knicks have been linked to younger players such as Alan Williams and Shelvin Mack who probably won’t cost much money.
Rose played in 64 games for the Knicks and averaged 18.0 points and 4.4 assists. His season ended early as he needed surgery on his left knee to repair a meniscus tear. It was his fourth knee surgery since 2012. That certainly hurt his value.
The Timberwolves and Spurs were potential suitors for Rose, but each locked up a point guard shortly after the free-agent negotiation period began Saturday morning. Minnesota reached an agreement with Jeff Teague and San Antonio brought back Patty Mills.
The Bucks have less than $10 million to offer free agents, but they’re said to be looking to shed salaries.
The Knicks still need a veteran point guard to help mentor 18-year-old rookie Frank Ntilikina and Baker, who was an undrafted rookie last season. Ntilikina said he would like to learn from Rose. “He’s the youngest MVP in NBA history,” Ntilikina said. “I could learn from him.
“It would be good. He did a lot of things in his NBA career. For sure it would be good. But I’m not controlling what the management is doing. I trust the management, the coaching staff, to do what’s best for the team.”
Rose is not completely out of the picture for the Knicks, although coach Jeff Hornacek has sounded lukewarm about bringing him back. The Knicks could try to work a sign-and-trade involving Rose so they get something in return for him.
Some available point guards they’ve been linked to are George Hill, Rajon Rondo and Mack. But the Knicks currently have less than $15 million for free agency, so Hill would appear out of their range. Hill met with the Lakers on Monday and reportedly was in discussions about a one-year deal.
The Knicks could try to move Kyle O’Quinn or Courtney Lee to free some money.