ORLANDO, Fla. — Jeff Hornacek wouldn’t rule out the Knicks getting a big name in free agency, but he said it’s unlikely because of the Knicks’ lack of salary-cap space.
The Knicks’ coach also said he’s not sure what the plan is. He probably is purposely being evasive amid all of the uncertainty surrounding the organization.
Phil Jackson departed as president Wednesday, leaving general manager Steve Mills in charge of assembling the roster. Carmelo Anthony’s future is in doubt. All the Knicks have done to this point is come to terms with Ron Baker on a two-year deal. Finding an impact player with roughly $15 million to spend won’t be easy.
“You never know,” Hornacek said after the Knicks lost their summer league opener to Dallas, 80-75. “What do we have? I don’t even know how much money our team has — $16 million, and these guys are making $30 [million] now. If you look at it that way, it doesn’t look likely.
“There are good players out there that I’m sure they’re looking at to help us out.”
The Knicks need a point guard, and some of the names on their wish list already are off the board. Jrue Holiday reportedly came to terms on a five-year, $126-million deal with New Orleans. Jeff Teague will sign a three-year, $57-million deal with Minnesota. Ricky Rubio was traded from Minnesota to Utah.
Rajon Rondo, George Hill and Darren Collison are among the free agents available, as is Derrick Rose. But Hornacek didn’t sound as if bringing back Rose is high on his list of priorities.
“I’m the wrong guy to ask that,” he said. “Management is working on that. I guess we’ll just see on that one if he’s back or not.”
As of now, it appears the plan is to grow and develop the young players. Hornacek continues to promote Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez and first-round pick Frank Ntilikina.
Baker is a part of it, too, or the Knicks wouldn’t have reached an agreement with him shortly after free agency started at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. But Hornacek is not permitted to talk about free agents during the moratorium.
“I’m not sure the direct plan, whether we’ll roll with some of these young guys,” Hornacek said. “Frank’s 18, KP’s only 22, Willy’s 23. That’s a pretty big young nucleus to build with. We just have to see how the roster shakes out.”
There’s certainly been an about-face regarding Porzingis since Jackson left. Jackson, who opened the door for the Knicks to receive trade inquiries about Porzingis before the draft, said he wasn’t ready to be the focal point of the offense, but Hornacek said Saturday that Porzingis is ready.
“[We have to] see what the roster is,” he said. “That’s his next step in his growth as a player, to be able to handle some of that. He’s going to have to take that next step of sometimes just taking over. I think he’s probably ready for that.”
As for the summer league game, the Knicks were very sloppy. They committed 23 turnovers that led to 25 points.
Ntilikina didn’t play because of a bruised right knee. Hornacek said Ntilikina most likely will sit out Sunday’s game too.
Chasson Randle had 14 points but committed seven fouls and seven turnovers. Second-round pick Damyeon Dotson scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He started 1-for-7 but connected on his last two three-pointers in the final minute. Big man Luke Kornett was 4-for-7 from three-point range for 12 points.
The Knicks’ other second-round pick, Ognjen Jaramez, wasn’t sharp at all. He missed all five of his shot attempts.
Former Stony Brook University star Jameel Warney had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Mavericks.