Patty Mills would like to play in New York and see more minutes than he saw this past season, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post. The Knicks have long had their eyes on the Creative Artists Agency client and are looking to use the taxpayer’s mid-level on a starting point guard, according to Berman. Knicks president Phil Jackson denied a report that he’s told Raymond Felton to expect a trade, but Berman insists that the team will try to trade its incumbent starting point guard.
Mills, who’ll hit free agency next month, is riding a high after a strong performance as the backup point guard on the Spurs, having helped the team to the championship after losing weight at the behest of coach Gregg Popovich. The 25-year-old notched 10.2 points in 18.9 minutes per game during the regular season with impressive 42.5% three-point shooting, though his paltry 1.8 assists per game demonstrate that he’s not a pass-first point guard. Still, he was an efficient player, recording an 18.7 PER.
The Knicks are also reportedly likely to pursue Steve Blake as they seek to upgrade at the point with their limited flexibility. They’ll almost certainly be capped out to begin the offseason regardless of what Carmelo Anthony chooses to do, and they also seem destined to wind up in the tax, particularly if Anthony returns. That means they’ll probably be limited to the $3.278MM taxpayer’s mid-level to sign free agents from other teams at more than the minimum salary. It’ll be tough to find a starting point guard on that money, so going after a career backup like Mills who’s nonetheless on the upswing and might be ready to take on a starting role seems like the best bet.
San Antonio has Bird rights on Mills, so the Spurs can outbid the Knicks if they deem the point guard worthy of a significant raise on his $1.134MM salary. It’ll be interesting to see if Jackson, whose affection for Mills might not run as deep as others in the Knicks front office who have close ties to Mills’ agency, is willing to commit the full taxpayer’s mid-level to force the Spurs into a tough decision. The Zen Master’s preference for players and coaches with whom he’s familiar, as witnessed by his hiring of coach Derek Fisher and the Lamar Odom signing, could prompt him to lean toward Blake rather than Mills.