Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina looks at the Olympics as a chance to rebuild his reputation after a rough start to his NBA career, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The French guard was considered among the best prospects in the world when he was selected with the eighth pick in the 2017 draft. He was a modest contributor during his first three years, but had his playing time cut in half when new coach Tom Thibodeau took over.
“Not playing is not easy for a player,’’ Ntilikina said in a recent interview with the French publication L’equipe. “I would definitely like to play more. But I train all season long. And because I’m still a young player, I know I have a lot of things of my game that I can improve on in future seasons. This is what I did this season offensively in games with the Knicks as soon as I had playing time, being at my advantage over the opponent’s point guards.’’
With his 23rd birthday looming next week, Ntilikina may be ready for a fresh start. He will hit the open market when free agency begins in August, and the Knicks will have to make a $7MM+ qualifying offer to keep him restricted. Berman notes that would carry an $18MM cap hold.
For now, Ntilikina’s priority is the Olympic Games and trying to win a gold medal for France.
“My approach to the Olympics is a bit the same as the one I had for the World Cup,’’ he said. “I try to bring as much as possible to the team. It’s the Olympics, it’s not just anything, it’s something I watched every four years. Now having the chance to go with the France team is a childhood dream.’’
There’s more on the Knicks:
- In a separate piece, Berman takes a closer look at Virginia forward Trey Murphy III, who could be in play for the Knicks with the 19th or 21st pick in Thursday’s draft. A source says Murphy had a “solid showing” in his workout for New York last week.
- Kelly Oubre‘s desire to join a team that plays “hard-nosed defense, scrappy, fast-paced, athletic open-floor offense” may make him a good fit for the Knicks. The Warriors’ free agent forward made the comments in a recent interview with Ian Begley and Chris Williamson of SNY.tv.
- Begley also talked with Obi Toppin about his experiences during his rookie season (video link). Toppin is doing offseason workouts with teammates RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox and Immanuel Quickley.