Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Fizdale, Thomas, Baker

The Knicks are set to give second-year player Frank Ntilikina a major defensive test in their next preseason game on Friday, a home contest against the rival Nets. Ntilikina, who’s known for playing most of his minutes at point guard, will have the chance to guard the power forward position when the two teams clash, head coach David Fizdale revealed.

“Brooklyn is fast-paced, they usually play four perimeters and a big guy. Why not? Let’s see it,” Fizdale said, according to Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “The fours that play in our league now … how teams are playing, they’re playing perimeter guys at that spot. Frank, that’s why I said he gives me so many options for having a ball-handler that can do multiple things and guard multiple people. So that’s where I think the flexibility comes in.”

The Nets typically play small at the four, with players such as DeMarre Carroll or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson likely to see minutes at the position. According to Joyce, Ntilikina wouldn’t be tasked with guarding bigger power forwards, but rather the small-ball prototype players such as Carroll and Hollis-Jefferson.

“You know what I think,” Ntilikina said. “Guarding anyone on the opposite end is good for me. It’s a challenge. I will do my best to deny them to score, to deny them to get what they want, to deny them to get comfortable. So yeah, if that’s the plan, let’s do it.

“It’s different, but at the end of the day, it’s basketball. Of course point guard doesn’t play like a four, but loving basketball and just being a student of the game, I want to be perfect at this. I want to be able to guard anyone.”

There’s more out of New York this week:

  • Lance Thomas has established himself as the team’s starting power forward for the time being, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets. Thomas appeared in 73 games last season, seeing 31 starts on the year.
  • Several teams called the Knicks last season with hopes of inquiring on the availability of Frank Ntilikina, but the team never showed any interest in trading him, Begley reports in a separate tweet.
  • Ron Baker has quickly earned the respect of David Fizdale this preseason, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “He’s a tough S.O.B.,’’ Fizdale said. Baker is entering his third consecutive season with the team and is on track to be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
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