NEW YORK — The Knicks are bringing back a familiar face. But it isn't Carmelo Anthony.
Just two days after they declined his contract option, the Knicks agreed to re-sign point guard Elfrid Payton on a reported one-year, $5 million deal. Payton was New York's starting point guard last season and was effective when he wasn't injured, averaging 10 points and 7.2 assists in 45 games.
Still, Payton, 26, continued to demonstrate fallibilities with his defense and jumper. He also failed to play more than 63 games for the fourth straight season because of injuries. On Thursday, the Knicks declined Payton's $8 million team option and sent him into free agency. Re-signing him saves the Knicks $3 million but doesn't change their lack of 3-point shooting.
The Knicks also have young point guards Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr. and rookie Immanuel Quickley. Multiple point guards went elsewhere in free agency: Fred VanVleet to Toronto, Rajon Rondo to Atlanta, DJ Augustin to the Bucks and Goran Dragic returned to the Heat.
Even after the Payton signing, the Knicks still have the most cap space remaining among NBA teams. But no feasible top players remain other than Sacramento's Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Carmelo Anthony, meanwhile, agreed to re-sign with the Blazers on a one-year minimum deal. Anthony was a candidate to return to New York but clearly preferred a chance to be more competitive.
Bobby Portis, who, like Payton, had his Knicks team option declined Thursday, signed with the Milwaukee Bucks.(c)2020 New York Daily News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC