Frank Ntilikina Unhappy About Christmas Benching

Whatever plans Frank Ntilikina had for Christmas Day, they didn’t include spending 48 minutes on the Knicks‘ bench. Ntilikina found himself back out of coach David Fizdale’s revolving lineup and he doesn’t sound happy about the move, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“Did I know that I would not play today?” Ntilikina said after the game. “Coach makes his decision during the game. So you don’t know. You know that, right?”

Ntilikina hasn’t played well lately, posting a 3.6/2.2/2.4 line over his past five games while shooting 21.4% from the field and 18.2% from 3-point range. Still, the timing of Fizdale’s decision was odd considering team president Steve Mills just spoke last Friday about the need to raise Ntilikina’s confidence on offense.

Yesterday’s benching was particularly tough for Ntilikina because his mother flew in from France to watch him play on Christmas. The Knicks’ other options at point guard weren’t playing well, Berman notes, as Emmanuel Mudiay committed five turnovers and Trey Burke hit just one of seven shots.

This is the second absence from the lineup for Ntilikina, who had three DNPs earlier this month, and he seems to be growing frustrated about Fizdale’s approach to allocating minutes.

“I don’t know how long it will be [this time],” Ntilikina said. “I can’t predict each and every game in the future. One thing I can do is get ready for each and every one — which I will do. Practice hard, get ready physically and mentally for the next game.”

Fizdale explained to reporters that Ntilikina had been “struggling” and he wanted to give more time to Burke, who has been working his way back from a knee strain.

While none of the Knicks’ point guards has been outstanding, Ntilikina is the only one under contract for next season. Burke’s $1.795MM deal for this season won’t be fully guaranteed until next month, while Mudiay is headed for restricted free agency.

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15 thoughts on “Frank Ntilikina Unhappy About Christmas Benching

  1. GuruGray

    I don’t understand Fizdale’s approach here. They’re a terrible team so might as well see what the young point can do and hopefully help him improve. We already know what Mudiay and Burke are and it’s nothing special

  2. LordBanana

    I don’t get this. Fiz hasn’t playing Ntilikina because he was struggling, but how is he supposed to improve literally getting 0 minutes a game. You don’t have to start him, but he’s not gonna magically be better after a month of no playing.

  3. Knicks have mishandled this situation from the start, and it wasn’t/isn’t that difficult to figure out. Frank needs consistent minutes, not pep talks, and if those minutes are not available with the Knicks, then he needs to get them in the G-League. Mudiay has been given true starter minutes for 3 weeks or so, and has played about as well as a guy can play under the circumstances. But if it’s not good enough to commit to him as the starter until the deadline, then trade him now. Burke, I think, would almost certainly overachieve in any role they gave him, except the current one (which is no real role).

  4. nlikeflynn

    Not saying Fitz is justified in his approach, but it’s not uncommon to insist a player perform a certain way in practice and then reward him with playing time.

  5. mattpatricia

    Where’s dionis? He guaranteed this man would be an all star this year.

  6. If they were tanking, than Frank would be in the lineup.

    I don’t love Fiz’ approach here, but if the decisions made do relate to how hard the guys work in practice, and the attitude they bring, then I can get behind it.

    Also, if Mudiay is being given run to see if he can be part of the Knicks future (hope not) for next season and beyond, then I get why he is getting major minutes. As for Burke, hopefully the minutes are being used to showcase him for a deadline trade.

  7. Really don’t like Fizdale’s approach, at all. I don’t like his attitude with players, don’t know why so many fans rave about him. He was an exceptional assistant, but a great assistant doesn’t mean a decent HC. Really the difference in roles between been the #1 or the #2 in the bench is greater than most people think & not many assistants make a great coach. Sadly he is one of them.

  8. x%sure

    Dolan, Mills, Perry, Fizdale. Where’s the quality. Frank’s mom could do better if she read Zach Lowe.

  9. dust44

    I don’t agree with playing Burke so much at all. I’d roll with Mudiay and Frank splitting the minutes at point only. U have to c if they r the answer moving forward. If ur not going to play frank at all. Then trade him while he still has alittle luster left. Also don’t agree with not playing Hedonja much either. Overall I don’t like the makeup of this team and don’t like the way Fitz is handling the minutes at all. I was a strong Knicks fan until the Isaiah Thomas debacle and I turned in my fandom. The Knicks are the biggest dumpster fire of the last decade

  10. Z-A

    You’d think… they would try and trade Burke to a contender. Still think they should use Kanter’s & Frank’s contract in a package for Wall. They have little shot at landing a top FA. They have a much better chance of trading for higher quality players.

  11. Lmao is this real? If playing terribly and not practicing well don’t warrant getting benched then I don’t know what else Fiz can do to try to spark Frank. He simply hasn’t played like he deserves to be on an nba court

  12. Long term I don’t see how not giving Frank minutes is going to help him… but when he’s been playing like crap it’s hard to feel too sorry for him. Maybe a G league stint is what he needs.

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