ORLANDO, Fla. — The Knicks signed a point guard Wednesday, but it was their own.
First-round pick Frank Ntilikina inked his rookie deal, a four-year contract for roughly $18.5 million. The last two years are team options.
The Knicks still need a veteran point guard to help mentor the 18-year-old Ntilikina and second-year guard Ron Baker — the lone free agent they’ve signed to this point. They’ve been in contact with Rajon Rondo’s representatives according to a source.
No meeting has been set up between the Knicks and Rondo, a four-time All-Star and three-time NBA assist leader. But he appears to be a legit option for what they want and need: an experienced veteran likely on a short deal to help teach the young guards the NBA ropes.
Rondo became a free agent after the Bulls waived him last week before his $13.4 million salary for next season became guaranteed. Chicago owes Rondo, who averaged 7.8 points and 6.7 assists last season, $3 million.
Jeff Hornacek wouldn’t speak about specific free agents, but he agreed that the Knicks could use a veteran point guard.
“That could always help,” Jeff Hornacek said. “We’ll take a look at that. If there’s somebody who’s going to help in his development that way, that’s what we’ll consider. I think he’s a kid that will take any challenge that we give. We’ll see how it goes.”
The Knicks, who could have around $15 million to spend in free agency pending other moves, had George Hill, Jeff Teague and Darren Collison on their radar. But they agreed to deals with other teams.
Free agent Shelvin Mack has been linked to the Knicks. Bringing back Derrick Rose remains an outside possibility, especially if it’s a short-term deal. Rose has met with the Bucks and reportedly will meet with the Clippers.
The Knicks reportedly were in the mix for shooter Dion Waiters, but he is returning to Miami on a 4-year, $52 million deal, a source confirmed.
“The amount of space we had is not conducive to going after these big free agents because of the amount of money guys make nowadays,” Hornacek said. “Sometimes patience will pay off for you. We’ll see what management ends up doing.
“We’re still hopeful some good things happen for us.”
Hornacek not worried
Although the Knicks are looking for a new executive to replace Phil Jackson, Hornacek isn’t concerned that whomever they hire will want to bring in a new coach. It’s possible the Knicks could elevate GM Steve Mills to president.
“Steve and I get along great in the thoughts that we have,” Hornacek said. “Business as usual. Here we go.”
Knicks fall again
The Knicks lost to the Magic, 84-73, to fall to 0-4 in summer league play. They play their final game Thursday morning.
Ntilikina will end up missing all five games because of a sore right knee that he suffered in his final playoff game for his French team. The plan for him is to go back to New York and work with the Knicks’ training staff to get stronger and prepare for the season.
“He can get to work with weights and doing that stuff with our guys as soon as possible,” Hornacek said. “He’s feeling much better. He’s pretty close. He can get with our weight guys and start the training for three months down the road.”