ORLANDO, Fla. — The Knicks were looking for a point guard to back up Derrick Rose and also start when needed, and they found just that in Brandon Jennings.
The Knicks have reached agreement with Jennings on a one-year, $5-million contract, according to multiple league sources. Jennings later tweeted that he will be a member of the Knicks.
“Can’t wait to play in the Mecca!! Excited to be joining such a historic franchise @nyknicks!!!,” Jennings wrote Monday afternoon.
Later in the day, the Knicks also came to terms on a multiyear deal with their own free agent, Lance Thomas, a source said. They still were working out the number of years, but Thomas will get the “early-bird exception,” starting at roughly $6 million for 2016-17.
The Knicks can’t announce any signings until the moratorium ends Thursday.
The Jennings deal could be a good under-the-radar signing for a team that has been very busy and productive during this free-agent negotiation period.
They already had reached agreement on deals with starting center Joakim Noah and shooting guard Courtney Lee. Jennings gives the Knicks a talented player off the bench to spell Rose or play alongside him. He is only 26 and has career averages of 15.5 points and 5.9 assists.
But in keeping with the theme of the Knicks this summer, they picked up another player who has battled injuries lately. If Rose, Noah and Jennings can stay healthy and turn back the clock a few years, the Knicks should have enough to make the postseason for the first time since 2013.
The Knicks’ starting five right now is Rose, Lee, Noah, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, with Jennings, Thomas, Kyle O’Quinn and Justin Holiday off the bench.
Team president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills still have work to do, but they’re assembling a team that could be interesting.
Jennings, the No. 10 overall pick by the Bucks in 2009, was an explosive player when he first came into the league. He averaged at least 15.5 points in each of his first five seasons, playing for the Bucks and Pistons, and scored 55 points as a rookie against Golden State.
Jennings was averaging 15.4 points for the Pistons when he tore an Achilles tendon in January 2015 and didn’t return until midway through the 2015-16 season. He was traded to Orlando for Tobias Harris in February. Jennings averaged 6.9 points and 3.5 assists for the Pistons and Magic in 48 games last season.
After locking up Noah (four years, $72 million) and Lee (four years, $48 million), the Knicks had limited money under the cap. To clear cap space for Jennings, they rescinded their $2.7-million qualifying offer to Langston Galloway, making him an unrestricted free agent.
The Knicks still could sign Galloway, but it will be more difficult now. They likely will renounce the rights to their other free agents, Derrick Williams, Sasha Vujacic, Lou Amundson and Kevin Seraphin.
They made it a priority to bring back Thomas, a glue guy off the bench. The Brooklyn native is a consummate professional and a solid defender, and he can shoot. He averaged 8.2 points in 59 games.
They’re also expected to bring over last year’s second-round pick, Willy Hernangomez of Spain, on a multiyear deal, and will see what low-priced veterans they can add.
Jackson has said he can clear more room, so it’s possible he could trade O’Quinn or Holiday. Once the Knicks use up their cap, they will have the $2.898-million room exception to offer free agents.
Bucks’ 1st Round pick, 10th overall, in 2009
Teams: Bucks, Pistons, Magic
Career Averages: 15.5 points per game, 5.9 assists per game
Last season: (48 games, with Pistons and Magic) 6.9 ppg, 3.5 apg