Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Burke, Knox, Cap Room

Frank Ntilikina‘s versatility may help him earn more minutes during his second NBA season, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks showed a lot of faith in Ntilikina when they drafted him ahead of Dennis Smith last season, and it may be paying off. Berman calls him a bright spot in a difficult preseason, looking more powerful on his drives to the basket and more active on defense.

Ntilikina has been locked in a three-way battle for minutes at point guard, but new coach David Fizdale seems willing to use him at shooting guard and small forward as well. Trey Burke is expected to be the starter at the point, with Emmanuel Mudiay and Ron Baker battling for leftover playing time.

“They all showed the ability to run the team and guard their position well,’’ Fizdale said of the point guard contenders. “They’ve made it tough on me — which is good.’’

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Knicks fans were thrilled about the prospects for rookie forward Kevin Knox, but the preseason showed he still has a lot to learn, Berman adds in the same story. Knox got into foul trouble Friday against the Nets and only played 12 minutes. It was his third straight poor game, but Fizdale remains committed to him as the starting small forward. “This is all learning for me,’’ Knox said. “Like he says all the time, I’m going to get my butt kicked a lot and I’m going to have a lot of mistakes. It’s part of a rookie year, you’re going to have ups and downs. It just shows how much confidence he has in me keeping me in the starting lineup.”
  • Even with today’s decision to waive and stretch Joakim Noah, the Knicks have some work to do before they can offer a max contract to a 10-year veteran like Kevin Durant, notes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. New York will have more than $57MM in committed salary next summer, and the team can subtract a non-guaranteed $7.6MM deal for Lance Thomas. However, Kristaps Porzingis will have a $17.1MM cap hold as a restricted free agent, and a likely lottery pick will reduce the cap by about another $6MM. That brings the Knicks’ cap space down to $32.5MM, short of the estimated maximum salary of $38.15MM that Durant can receive.
  • The Knicks were 28th in the league in 3-point attempts in the preseason and Fizdale says it’s a matter of personnel, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley. “The way we’re shooting it, I don’t think that’s a great shot for us,” he said.
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17 thoughts on “Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Burke, Knox, Cap Room

  1. Dionis

    Good move Fiz, Trey Burke is the right selection to start, Frank is a combo guard not a pure point guard like Burke who’s more of a floor general with better ball handling ability.

    Knicks should just keep Porzingis out and tank for a top 5 pick. If they can get their hands on Cam Reddish the Knicks could get back to the top. Reddish is very skilled and can already shoot the 3, plus he has a scorer’s mentality. He would compliment Knox rather nicely and the Knicks could run Knox at the 4.

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    • Tanking doesn’t work anymore after the draft lottery reform.

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    • Saera

      You couldn’t be more wrong. First off, Trey is basically a SG in a PG’s body. His handle is more advanced but he’s like 6 years older so it should be. But what about him looks like a natural facilitator? He’s been trading ISOs with Trier all preseason. He’s also one of the tiniest PGs in the league so we’re almost always gonna be at a disadvantage with him on defense.

      I don’t know how you can watch how Frank plays the game and call Trey a more natural facilitator. Trey has nowhere near the same court vision. Trey is so clearly a sixth man.

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  2. padam

    Agreed, but if the Knicks sign a FA in the off-season, like Durant for example, either Reddish or Knox will be riding the bench. Depending on where they draft, I’d be going after a PG or SG.

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  3. Stop dreaming of Durant, it’s not gonna happen, he just turned 30 and god knows how many good years he has left before Father Time starts to catch up to him, he’s staying in Golden State because he wants to win. I’d rather see the Knicks get Zion over Cam any day of the week, I’m sure there gonna be a very small learning curve when he gets into the league.

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  4. Plus tanking doesn’t work anymore under the new lottery system, the 3 worst teams all have the same 14% chance at getting the top pick with the 4th worst team getting a 12.5% chance at getting the top pick. The best option is to try and win games and see where the ping pong balls land.

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    • GabeOfThrones

      Even without Porzingis the Knicks would never full-metal tank. Aside from all of the “culture building” talk, Jimmy Dolan’s ego would never allow for a multi-year “process” type tank-job…he’d have a stroke if The Situation was a front-row regular at the garden. They’ll probably max out around 33-36 games won, and be in the top-5 mix. That should be enough to make things interesting the following year when KP is not only healthy, but ready to take the next step. And there is definitely a next step. KD ain’t coming. Nor is Irving. Or Butler. I don’t want to give Perry and Mills too much credit, because I don’t think they’re particularly good at anything besides placating and marketing, but I honestly think in 2 years, the Knicks will be one of the 3 best teams in the east. And probably for a while. The salary cap and the draft run the current NBA landscape. If you betray neither, you’ve got a shot. Now Tim Hardaway Jr. just needs to average 23 points a game this upcoming season…

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      • x%sure

        Smart read, but I think too optimistic, considering… Perry & Mills. They did avoid Porter. But while I like the sound of Knox on the Knix, he must be compared to both Bridges, drafted soon after. I think he will have to be managed & used certain ways to be the best choice. The Bridges will be better at finding the game. If Mikal finds PT

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  5. greg1

    Trading THJ isn’t going to be easy. He’s not the worst contract in the L, but he’s overpaid by $5-$7M a year. If the Knicks could get an expiring deal for him, it won’t be for the full value of his deal, it would likely be for $8-$10M, and then pick up a smaller bad contract as part of the deal.

    Can’t imagine how anyone thinks Trey is a starting level PG. Could he be a decent backup combo guard, sure, but to suggest he has better vision than Frank is silly. That said, Frank in a combo wing role with secondary ball handling responsibilities is a good fit for him. There is no true starting PG on this team.

    Durant is a realistic possibility. He now has rings, so if he really wanted to be the guy that turned the Knicks around, it’s not like his career is unfulfilled.

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  6. bw22

    I’d like to see Burke come off the bench as a “Lou Williams” type 6th man. I like him a lot as a player but not sure about him as the starting pg.

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  7. Fiz & Co. now need to earn their money, and put up or shut up on the concept of player development. Assembling young talented players, and helping them with their skills/games, is the easy part. Real player development is about putting players in optimal roles, and giving them the meaningful PT to develop in those roles. There are only so many guys you can develop, so choices have to be made and leashes have be appropriately long or short. PT decisions need to reflect his vision of the team he aspires them to be. Honeymoon is over.

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  8. BStevens

    The Knicks are a joke. Their best player is injured and you’re putting your faith in a Frank/Knox/Porzingas combo to get into the top 3 in the East? and that pipe dream about Durant. That’s about as real as Kyrie being a Knick.

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