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.