Could the Knicks’ starting point guard this coming season be an undrafted player out of Wichita State who barely slid onto the roster last year?
It’s not out of the realm of possibility with the Knicks’ re-signing of Ron Baker, their restricted free-agent second-year point guard. ESPN reported Tuesday it’s a two-year deal worth $8.9 million.
Baker nabbed a spot on the team’s roster last year after Chasson Randle broke his orbital bone in training camp. His hard defensive play won over coach Jeff Hornacek as he broke into the team’s rotation by mid-January and was starting games by the end of the season. Baker averaged 4.1 points, 2.1 assists in 16.5 minutes.
Baker’s deal, which incudes an option, is reportedly for the full-room exception. This means that the Knicks now reportedly have less than $1.5 million in cap space left, which completely puts them out of the running to sign an experienced free-agent point guard such as Rajon Rondo or Derrick Rose. The team did take point guard Frank Ntilikina with the No. 8 pick in the draft, but it’s hard to imagine the 18-year-old would be anywhere near ready to start this season.
The Knicks could create cap space via trade in order to find someone to mentor Ntilikina. The team is still looking to trade star forward Carmelo Anthony, who has a no-trade clause in his contract. There have been persistent reports that the Rockets are interested in Anthony, and he would be willing to waive the no-trade clause to join forces with Chris Paul and James Harden in Houston.
Baker’s signing is the second free-agent commitment made under general manager Steve Mills after the team parted ways with president Phil Jackson. Mills also signed shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71-million offer sheet that the Atlanta Hawks declined to match.