Ahead of the first game of the 2020/21 Knicks season, point guard Frank Ntilikina stated that the sore left Achilles that had limited his preseason availability had fully recovered, according to Ian Begley of SNY (Twitter link). Ntilikina, the No. 8 pick in the 2017 draft, also noted that he and the Knicks did not discuss a potential contract extension ahead of Monday’s deadline, as we previously detailed.
The future of Ntilikina, the final lottery pick of former Knicks team president Phil Jackson, remains unclear, as Steve Popper of Newsday details. He will be eligible to become a restricted free agent in the 2021 offseason.
There’s more out of the City That Never Sleeps:
- Reserve point guards Dennis Smith Jr. and Ntilikina would not have made the cut for the club’s 10-man rotation in the Knicks’ season opener, a 121-107 loss to the Pacers, had rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley not gotten injured in the second quarter with a hip pointer, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. Both guards are former top-10 2017 NBA draft picks. Head coach Tom Thibodeau opted to play shooting guard Alec Burks as his initial replacement before ultimately bringing in Ntilikina for five minutes of relatively ineffective play. “We wanted to keep as much shooting on the floor as we can to try to create the opportunities that we’re looking for factored into it,” Thibodeau explained.
- New Nets player development assistant Amar’e Stoudemire was reticent to make the leap from player to coach this summer after another productive season with the Israeli Basketball Premier League club Maccabi Tel Aviv, per Marc Stein of the New York Times. A six-time All-Star with the Suns and Knicks, the 38-year-old Stoudemire is reuniting with former Phoenix running mate Steve Nash, now Brooklyn’s head coach, and former Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni, now another assistant on Nash’s bench. “We wanted him to come in and share all the things that he learned from his experiences — but also to learn about coaching, video analysis, analytics and the front office,” Nash said. “I get to learn from all departments,” Stoudemire said, “to see where I want my career to go.”
- Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is smartly prioritizing building good habits and player development rather than worrying about the club’s win-loss record, according to Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post. “You either win,” Thibodeau said, “or you learn.”