Desperate to upgrade their point guard position, the Knicks could pursue the San Antonio sniper with their mini mid-level exception this summer, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
Mills collected just $1.3 million during the 2013-14 campaign, but he could be looking at a substantial pay raise after enjoying the best season of his five-year career. The 25-year-old played more games (81) and minutes (18.9 a night) than ever before and posted an impressive .464/.425/.890 shooting slash.
He may have saved his best for last, averaging 15.5 points on 61.1 percent shooting from the field and 64.3 percent shooting from distance over the final two games of the championship round.
That ability to perform under the brightest lights could help him handle the pressures of calling the Big Apple home. A source told Berman there's a certain intrigue for the career reserve to raise his profile in the league's biggest market.
"New York is definitely a city Mills would want to play in," the source said. "He has that personality."
He also has a lethal three-point cannon that could help maintain floor balance for the triangle offense that coach Derek Fisher and team president Phil Jackson will implement. Only one Knicks regular shot a higher percentage from three than Mills this season (Pablo Prigioni, 46.4), and Mills launched nearly 200 more triples than the Knicks reserve (318 to 140).
The Knicks do not have a lot of resources to add talent over the offseason, but the lead guard spot has always been expected to be a focal point of their summer plans. Starter Raymond Felton struggled mightily in 2013-14 (9.7 points on 39.5 percent shooting) and was arrested on felony weapons charges in February.
A league source told ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley in May that Jackson informed Felton he will try to trade him over the offseason.
Mills, now an unrestricted free agent, could provide an instant lift with both his shooting and his active, aggressive defense. The Knicks may have a fight on their hands, though, as the Spurs could look to keep him around.
"He’s a special guy," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, via Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News. "His energy has been important to us all year long. He’s a real significant reason why we got to the Finals. That energy, that team sense that he has really has become infectious for everybody."
The Knicks, though, could offer Mills a larger role and perhaps more money. It all depends on what the quick-strike scorer is hoping to find.
"He's a key role player on the NBA champions," NBCSports.com's Kurt Helin wrote. "This is a place he is comfortable, a place he likes playing and a place where they will win a lot of games. But if Mills wants a bigger role...if he wants to be in a bigger spotlight, the Knicks are a good call."
With no draft picks and limited financial flexibility, the Knicks do not have a lot of avenues to potential external assistance. Mills wouldn't figure to fall outside of their price range, though.
As a shooter and a natural leader, he could scratch some major itches for New York. The question is whether the retooling Knicks can offer him enough to pry him away from the world champs.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.
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