The Knicks are expected to pursue Steve Blake in free agency this summer, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, who confirms an earlier report from Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv that team president Phil Jackson told Raymond Felton he will seek to trade him this summer. The 34-year-old Blake just finished the final season of a four-year, $16MM contract that he signed in 2010 with the Lakers, who traded him to the Warriors at the deadline this year.
Blake has been primarily a reserve the past five seasons, though he started in all 27 of his appearances for the Lakers this year in place of Steve Nash, who missed most of the season with a variety of ailments. Blake has also missed significant time the past two seasons, having played in only 100 of a possible 164 regular season games. He would seem an odd choice to replace Felton, who was New York’s starting point guard, but perhaps Jackson is only seeking him for the bench and will go after a starting-caliber point guard via trade. It’ll be difficult for the Knicks, who’ll likely end up in the tax again next season, to bring in a starting point guard via free agency, since they’ll probably only have the taxpayer’s mid-level to offer.
It’ll be a similarly tough assignment for agent Joel Bell to find a deal for his client that closely resembles his last contract, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Blake sign for more than the minimum salary, especially given the apparent interest this early in the offseason. Blake has spoken of his affection for the Lakers and Warriors, so a reunion with Jackson, his former coach, might not be tops on his wish list. The Knicks could probably snag him for a portion of their smaller mid-level, worth $3.278MM, leaving them with an opportunity to ink one more non-minimum free agent.