Wayne Ellington happy to stick around and help younger Knicks blossom

Part 5 of a series analyzing the New York Knicks:

When the Knicks season was suspended on March 11 after their game in Atlanta, team brass had to pick one player to talk to the media in a press-conference setting because locker rooms were closed.

Shooting guard Wayne Ellington became the chosen one — viewed by the organization as the consummate pro and a gifted communicator.

It is why the Knicks decided to hold onto Ellington at the Feb. 6 trade deadline despite multiple suitors.

After the deadline, there was at least one interested team in each conference if the Knicks decided to buy out Ellington’s contract. Indeed, 3-point shooting — and high character — are a premium in the NBA.

Knicks GM Scott Perry and Ellington’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, conducted several conversations about a buyout, according to a source. At the time, Ellington said he “had a decision to make.’’

The mutual decision was to stay. Perry wanted Ellington around the young players because he was having a positive influence on them. And Ellington, who is back at his Miami-area home, was happy to be wanted.

“I’m a guy who likes to finish what he starts,’’ Ellington told The Post earlier this month. “We faced a lot of adversity and we’re still building as a team. I saw an opportunity to grow with these young guys. There’s a lot of things that went into it but I’m happy to be here to finish out the year.’’

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While Ellington’s 3-point shot didn’t fall as much as everyone hoped, he added value. However, the money will make it difficult for the 32-year-old to return next season. The journeyman may be onto his 10th team in 2020-21.

With the Knicks swimming in cap space after striking out with the big free agents in July, Ellington signed a two-year, $16 million pact with the second year a team option. Only $1 million is guaranteed for 2020-21.

wayne ellington knicks assessment grade
Wayne EllingtonCorey Sipkin

The Knicks will have to waive Ellington, then try to re-sign him if they want him back. It’s a possibility with all the roster openings expected, but only if the price is modest.

In and out of the rotation, Ellington shot 35 percent from 3-point range and closed strongly. He played in 36 of 66 games. The minutes he got in February and March rankled some Knicks fans wanting to see more young blood, but Ellington’s big 17-point night in Detroit on Feb. 8 keyed a fourth straight victory.

“He might be back to a minimum-salary player next season,’’ one NBA personnel man told The Post. “I think maybe he’s a lost a step and he was never too athletic to begin with. He’ll hang around a couple more years because of his shooting profile.’’

Knicks interim coach Mike Miller turned into a big fan before the season was suspended.

“He’s the first one in the gym, the last one getting extra shots,’’ Miller said late in the season. “He’s staying ready [when not playing]. 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.”

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