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.