Frank Ntilikina is the latest victim of coach David Fizdale’s changing rotation, never leaving the bench in Saturday night’s win over the Bucks, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. The Knicks were down a guard after Trey Burke sprained his right knee in the first minute of the game, but Fizdale never turned to Ntilikina, making it the first DNP-CD of his brief NBA career.
“It’s not frustration,” Ntilikina said after the game. “I think it’s motivation because as a competitor, you want to be out there on the court to help your team. My job and my mindset is to keep working harder to be able to get back on the court.”
Ntilikina has started 14 games this season, but has seen his playing time reduced while suffering through a shooting slump. Fizdale has remained supportive and issued a reminder that other players have found themselves in the same situation.
“As you could see with these guys, none of them are ever in the dungeon,” Fizdale said. “He was the example of my postgame speech because if you watch our bench tonight, he was the most energetic, the first one up, the first one rooting guys on, the one making sure people knew what they were supposed to do coming out of timeouts. And that’s not easy when you’re getting a DNP. But as you know and as they know, I will come back to him in no time. [Damyean Dotson] is a perfect testament of that.”
There’s more this morning from New York:
- Kevin Knox responded to league-wide questions about his ability with a career-best performance Saturday, notes Kevin Kernan of The New York Post. Knox scored 26 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, as New York knocked off one of the league’s best teams. “Fiz is always going to have confidence in me,” the rookie forward said. “He just wants me to keep playing hard. He talked to me about that the other day. It shows how much confidence in me to keep me out there the whole game.”
- Fizdale is willing to endure the growing pains for Knox and Mitchell Robinson and won’t consider a trip to the G League for either one, Popper relays in a separate story. “I’ve got a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old trying to figure out the NBA, the league that’s full of the absolute best players in the world, the best coaches in the world, doing it in the absolute toughest market in America,” Fizdale said. “Give them a break. These guys are learning on the fly.”
- In an interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post, Noah Vonleh explains why he chose the Knicks in free agency.