DETROIT — Wayne Ellington still was on the court Saturday night with the Knicks — and even was on the floor working out Friday night after landing in snowy Detroit. But just how much longer he will be with the Knicks is not something he can answer.
Ellington surfaced in the Knicks’ rotation Thursday night after not getting on the court in nine of the previous 10 games, and he responded with 12 points, shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. He followed that with a team-high 17 points off the bench Saturday and helped the Knicks to a 95-92 win over the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena, their fourth straight victory.
But if these were showcases, it also was a limited opportunity. RJ Barrett was just returning from a sprained ankle and Damyean Dotson was ill Thursday and never got off the bench Saturday. Ellington played 28 minutes Saturday, the second-most minutes he has played in a game this season.
Julius Randle also had 17 points for the Knicks (17-36). Reggie Jackson led Detroit (19-36) with 20 points. The Knicks outrebounded the Pistons 47-28.
Ellington was one of the seven free agents signed by the Knicks in the summer in a rush after stars spurned their interest. The dream for team president Steve Mills, general manager Scott Perry and coach David Fizdale was that this veteran infusion would make the team a contender for a playoff spot and change the image of the team.
But Fizdale was dismissed after 22 games, Mills was removed last week and Perry is believed to be the next to go. The players are changing, too. Marcus Morris was traded just ahead of the deadline and now players such as Ellington are left to decide whether to take a buyout and try to find a place with more minutes or a chance at playoff contention.
“There’s a lot of stuff out there,” Ellington said after the Knicks’ morning shootaround at Seaholm High School. “There’s a lot of different things floating around for options. It’s part of the business. It’s part of the game. There’s nothing imminent right now. There’s nothing for sure, nothing that’s going on. So right now, I’m with the guys in here, with the Knicks, and I’m going to keep pushing forward. We won three games in a row, try to keep that going.
“There will be a decision to make. I’m just listening to my agent at this point. I come in here, come into work every single day like it’s a normal day. Listen and get advice and take it from there.”
Ellington, 32, already has played for nine different teams, so adding another isn’t exactly going to break a long-term relationship.
“I can’t speak to that,” interim coach Mike Miller said. “I just know he comes every day. He was working out last night. He’s staying ready and knows what he needs to do. He’s got value to the team with the stuff he adds.
“Wayne has been — he’s the first one in the gym, the last one getting extra shots. He’s staying ready. He does extra conditioning. He’s the ultimate pro. He’s talking to the young guys. He’s done everything you can ask a guy to do. It was great to see him getting some time and impacting the game.”
“It’s part of being a professional,” Ellington said. “I don’t want to say it’s hard for me. That’s one of the things that keeps me focused, staying with it, is getting that work in. Not playing, you’ve got to do some extra things. Preach to guys, especially to the young guys when they’re not playing or things aren’t going their way. Get in the gym. Lose yourself in the gym. Lose yourself in your work.”