Frank Ntilikina

Knicks Rumors: Blatt, Porzingis, Ntilikina

David Blatt’s connections to the Knicks front office could land the former Cavaliers head coach in New York during the upcoming season, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Blatt would like another NBA job and he’s close friends with team president Steve Mills and recently-hired front office executive Craig Robinson, both of whom were college teammates of Blatt’s, Isola points out. The Knicks’ schedule could also put current coach Jeff Hornacek on the hot seat before the All-Star break as they play 16 of 20 games on the road right after Christmas, including the Warriors and Spurs, Isola notes.

In other items regarding the Knicks:

  • The club should not give up Kristaps Porzingis in order to acquire disgruntled Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News argues. Porzingis is a unique player who should be considered an untouchable, a 7’3” big man who protects the rim and stretches the floor, Bondy notes. Porzingis is not even eligible to become a restricted free agent for another two seasons, and even shedding the contract of Carmelo Anthony or Joakim Noah isn’t worth giving him up, Bondy continues. If Irving wants to play in New York, he can sign with the franchise as a free agent in two years, Bondy adds. Currently, the Knicks regard any attempt by the Cavs to acquire Porzingis as a non-starter in trade talks involving Irving.
  • Frank Ntilikina has picked the brains of former NBA players in Europe and believes he’ll have to play more on instinct than he did overseas, he explained to Mike Vorkunov of the New York Times in an in-depth feature. Former Knick Mardy Collins and former Maverick Rodrigue Beaubois instructed him that talent and athleticism rule in the NBA, while the European game is more focused on basketball I.Q. and a cerebral approach. “They told me like when you go here, you don’t have to think too much, because I used to think a lot,” the Knicks lottery pick told Vorkunov. “I used to play the game as a chess game. So they told me when you go there, you just have to play your game and not think too much.” Ntilikina has been studying tapes of top NBA point guards in an effort to refine his game, Vorkunov adds.

Atlantic Notes: Ntilikina, Okafor, London

While the plan has always been to bring rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina along slowly, the fact that the Knicks failed to land a notable veteran at the position this offseason gives the first-year player an opportunity to sneak into the starting lineup.

Of course [I want to start],” Ntilikina told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, before stressing that he’s a team player more concerned with simply improving over the course of his first campaign with the Knicks.

The Knicks added Ramon Sessions over the summer but while Sessions brings a source of veteran leadership, he hasn’t been a consistent starter previously in his 10-year career.

Regardless of where he ends up in the rotation, the Knicks’ eighth-overall pick acknowledges a need to work on his body and brace for the physical challenges of stepping into the NBA.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Although his name has frequently come up in trade rumors, Sixers big man Jahlil Okafor “couldn’t be happier” in Philadelphia. The center spoke with Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times about the idea of suiting up for another squad.
  • The Celtics aren’t about to plan their offseason around what the Cavaliers are doing. “We have our own problems and our own challenges and trying to put players together that can win and compete in the league today is very difficult,Danny Ainge said recently on the Dan Patrick Show (via CSN New England).
  • The Celtics and Sixers will take their talents to the United Kingdom this season, an press release reveals. The two division rivals will square off in NBA London Games 2018 on January 11.

Poll: Best Rookie Point Guard Season

The 2017 NBA Draft was loaded with talented point guards, including first overall pick Markelle Fultz, No. 2 selection Lonzo Ball, and fellow lottery picks De’Aaron Fox, Frank Ntilikina, and Dennis Smith Jr. 

Fultz showed flashes of brilliance in the NBA Summer League amid overall inconsistent play before he ultimately injured his ankle in his Las Vegas debut. The 76ers guard was promptly shut down for the remainder of Summer League. This season, the rookie figures to be a regular fixture in the Philadelphia backcourt.

After dominating his freshman season at UCLA, Ball won Las Vegas Summer League MVP honors, racking up assists (9.3 APG) and steals (2.5 SPG), as well as points and rebounds. Although it is not clear whether Ball will start for the Lakers right out of the gate, he will certainly be the beneficiary of a hearty amount of playing time.

Fox is also expected to see his fair share of action this season, but averaged just 21.3 minutes per game in four Las Vegas Summer League games. Like Fultz and Ball, Fox exhibited tantalizing athleticism. The Kentucky product averaged a solid 11.8 points per contest and 3.0 assists. Fox’s 2.3 SPG were extremely impressive.

The Knicks drafted Ntilikina eighth overall because of his speed and agility. Last season, the point guard averaged just 15.5 minutes per game for Strasbourg in France but displayed tremendous promise and improved noticeably as a shooter. With D. Rose out of town, it appears as if the keys to Madison Square Garden are about to be Frank’s.

In six games in Las Vegas, Smith averaged 17.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 4.2 APG, shooting 45.7% from the floor and electrifying with the occasional powerful dunk. The Mavericks prospect also tallied 2.2 SPG.

This brings us to today’s poll: Which of these point guards will have the best rookie season in 2017/18?

Knicks Sign Frank Ntilikina To Rookie Contract

The Knicks’ new point guard has a new contract, according to the team, which announced today (via Twitter) that Frank Ntilikina has officially inked his four-year rookie deal. As Marc Berman of The New York Post tweets, Ntilikina’s mother was in attendance to witness the event.

[RELATED: 2017 NBA Draft Pick Signings]

As the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 draft, Ntilikina is in line for a first-year salary of about $3.5MM, with a four-year total of $18.69MM on his new deal. The third and fourth years will be team options.

While Ntilikina projects to be the Knicks’ point guard of the future, it’s not clear whether he’ll get a chance to play major minutes right away. The club has been fairly quiet in free agency, but continues to seek a veteran point guard to act as a mentor for Ntilikina, who will turn 19 later this month.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Artis, Porzingis

After impressing the Knicks in his exit interview, Derrick Rose may have secured himself a spot with the franchise next season, Charley Rosen of FanRag Sports writes. The free agent guard will, however, have to make some adjustments should the team re-sign him.

Rosen notes that Rose will have to learn to make quicker decisions with the ball and limit the amount of times he penetrates without a plan, something he was able to do with ease during the early stages of his career.

Should the veteran enthusiastically buy into the triangle and hone up his defense in a follow up season with the franchise, he could be the team’s short-term answer at point guard until rookie Frank Ntilikina is ready to take on a larger role.

There’s more out of New York:

  • When the Knicks signed undrafted rookie Jamel Artis to a partially guaranteed deal this week, they landed a player who is eager to fill a role in the triangle offense, Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports writes. “I’ll fit in that system very well. I’m a versatile player and I’m a shooter, so I can space the floor in the triangle,” he said.
  • Count Malik Monk‘s poor fit within the triangle as one of the major reasons why the Knicks didn’t select him with their eighth overall pick, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders writes. Frank Ntilikina, on the other hand, is precisely the type of player Phil Jackson prefers as his lead guard.
  • Team president Phil Jackson is wary of building a future together with Kristaps Porzingis after the 21-year-old famously blew off his exit meeting with the franchise, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. The worry, Berman notes, is to what extent Porzingis could damage the organization with future acts of rebellion.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Ntilikina, Jaramaz, Jackson

Derrick Rose‘s agent, B.J. Armstrong, would like to meet with the Knicks before free agency begins Saturday, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. New York could head off Rose’s free agency by working out an extension this week, and team president Phil Jackson said, “We’re listening,” when asked about that possibility. Rose has been cleared for running and contact after surgery in April to fix a torn meniscus. “It’s a matter of wanting to hear from them and their vision of what the team is trying to do,” Armstrong said. “We stated our intention … once we got traded there, we want to be in New York. At the same time, we have to see what it is and go from there. Let’s listen and gather information.’’

The Timberwolves are expected to be a contender for Rose, with one GM telling Berman that Minnesota coach/executive Tom Thibodeau would bring in all his former Bulls players if he had the opportunity. The Wolves, who traded for Jimmy Butler on Thursday, talked to the Knicks about a swap of Rose and Ricky Rubio in February, but pulled out before the deal could be completed. Sources told Berman that others in the Minnesota organization convinced Thibodeau not to make the trade because Rose wouldn’t be guaranteed to stay.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Knicks fans chanted “Fire Phil” at the draft and booed owner James Dolan as his band played across town, but there was no negative reception for first-rounder Frank Ntilikina, writes Steve Popper of USA Today. The French point guard provides optimism and enthusiasm for an organization that can’t seem to escape chaos. “What I will bring to the Knicks, actually a lot of hope,” Ntilikina said. “I think I’m a player who will trust the process, work hard, and definitely try to be the best player I can be, who will give energy. I think I’m a team point guard and shooting guard actually. I’ll just try to make my teammates be better every day, and I think I can play defense, too.”
  • ESPN’s Frank Fraschilla, an expert on international prospects, thinks Ntilikina has a bright future in the NBA, but not the Knicks’ No. 58 pick, Berman notes in a separate story. Serbian Ognjen Jaramaz is a draft-and-stash player who might never make it onto the Knicks’ roster. “Chances are he’ll never play in the NBA and Knicks fans will never see him other than summer league,’’ Fraschilla said. “He’s an older international kid, very limited upside. He’s a hard-nosed competitor but not really a great athlete or shooter.”
  • Drafting an 18-year-old and seemingly launching a youth movement are signs that Jackson is planning to stay in New York for a long time, writes Mike Lupica of The New York Daily News. Lupica notes that with a $12MM-a-year-salary and no chance to return to the Lakers now that a new management team is in place, Jackson has nothing but time.

Draft Night Rumors: Holiday, Smith Jr., Butler, Cavs

9:14pm: In response to Amico’s note below, Channing Frye has posted an Instagram message dismissing the idea that he’s planning to retire.

Meanwhile, Mavs president Donnie Nelson also addresses an item below, telling reporters that he thinks the Dennis Smith Jr. pick means the Mavs likely won’t target a point guard in free agency (Twitter link via Damon R. Marx of The Dallas Morning News).

8:28pm: The Mavericks may not be ready to hand their offense over to No. 9 pick Dennis Smith Jr. The team still plans to make a run at Pelicans‘ point guard Jrue Holiday once free agency begins, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. A former All-Star in Philadelphia, Holiday will be seeking a significant raise after making less than $11.3MM this season. The 27-year-old averaged 15.4 points and 7.3 assists in 67 games.

There’s more news from an eventful draft night:

  • Dallas coach Rick Carlisle offered a different perspective, posts Tim MacMahon on ESPN Now. Before being asked, Carlisle told reporters that he sees Smith as an immediate starter, noting his blend of intelligence, maturity and athleticism. “We believe he’s going to be a tremendous player for us and right away,” he said.
  • Carlisle added that the Mavs definitely preferred Smith over French point guard Frank Ntilikina, who was taken by the Knicks at No. 8. The coach said there was “uproarious” applause in the Dallas draft room when New York’s pick was announced (Twitter link).
  • In negotiations for Jimmy Butler, the Celtics refused to part with their No. 3 pick this year or the Nets‘ pick for 2018, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Butler was shipped to Minnesota in a deal involving the No. 7 pick, and the Celtics may send Jayson Tatum, whom they drafted at No. 3, to Indiana in a trade for Paul George.
  • Cavaliers veterans Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson may retire this offseason, relays Sam Amico of AmicoHoops (Twitter link). If they do, it will reduce the salary commitment in Cleveland and open up two roster spots, giving the new GM some flexibility. Frye, 34, made more than $7.4MM this season, while Jefferson, who turned 37 yesterday, collected a little more than $2.6MM.

Draft Rumors: Monk, Ntilikina, Hornets, Thunder

Malik Monk and Frank Ntilikina may be in “weird positions” tonight, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford. As Ford explains, one of those two players is a good bet to land with the Knicks at No. 8. However, the player who isn’t picked by New York is a candidate to fall out of the top 10 and perhaps to the end of the lottery. In his final mock draft, Ford has Ntilikina going to the Knicks and Monk slipping to the Pistons at No. 12.

Here are a few more draft rumors and notes:

  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post continues to hear that if he’s still on the board at No. 11, Donovan Mitchell appears likely to land with the Hornets (Twitter link).
  • There’s “growing chatter” that Frank Jackson has a first-round promise, and the Thunder may be that team that gave him that guarantee, tweets Royce Young of Young adds (via Twitter) that Oklahoma City may look to trade back a few spots in the first round in an effort to pick up a second-round selection.
  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 identifies Davon Reed and Semi Ojeleye as two players to watch for the Suns in the second round (Twitter link).

Draft Notes: Ball, Ntilikina, Bulls, Mavericks

The Lakers are widely expected to take Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick after trading D’Angelo Russell on Tuesday, but Ball tells Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports that he hasn’t received a guarantee from the team. Ball worked out twice for L.A., with the second time reportedly at the request of the Lakers after a disappointing showing in the first session. “I think they were both fine,” he said. L.A. is still giving “real consideration” to Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

There’s more news as teams lock in their draft strategies:

  • French point guard Frank Ntilikina held a last-minute workout for the Knicks this morning, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Sources tell Berman that the Mavericks, who are also in the market for a point guard, talked to the Timberwolves about trading up from the ninth pick to the seventh to have a shot at Ntilikina, but talks collapsed because of Minnesota’s high asking price. The Wolves would prefer to use that pick as part of a package to get Jimmy Butler from the Bulls. Today’s workout was conducted by former Knicks player developmental coach Chris Brickley, who tutored Ntilikina last summer.
  • If the Bulls do move Butler, they will likely target Fox or Josh Jackson, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.
  • The Celtics are also interested in the seventh pick and have spoken to the Wolves about a possible deal, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Boston may want an extra draft choice to sweeten its offer to the Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis.
  • Responding to Damian Lillard‘s request for a better supporting cast, the Trail Blazers are trying to acquire a lottery pick, tweets Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News. Portland’s priority in any deal is getting rid of a bad contract, according to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The Blazers made an offer for Paul George, but it “doesn’t move the needle” for the Pacers, relays Jason Quick of CSNNW (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors, who hold the No. 23 pick, are gauging interest around the league and are willing to trade down, according to Scotto (Twitter link).
  • The Nuggets, who have the 13th selection, are another team that may try to move down, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. He notes that Denver has a history of making draft-night trades.
  • Several teams have expressed an interest in moving into the late part of the lottery, according to Givony (Twitter link). He lists the Lakers, Hawks, Nets, Bucks, Trail Blazers and Rockets as teams that might try to acquire a pick in the 10-14 range.

Draft Notes: Jackson, Ball, Ntilikina, Smith

Kansas forward Josh Jackson wanted to work out for the Celtics after they traded for the No. 3 pick, but couldn’t work out the scheduling, tweets Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The Celtics are reportedly deciding between Jackson and Duke forward Jayson Tatum if they decide to keep the pick, and Tatum held a workout in Boston on Monday.

Jackson added that he has spoken to Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown and believes they would form a good combination (Twitter link). The former Jayhawk also disputed a rumor that he refused to work out for the team unless he was promised Boston wouldn’t trade its pick (Twitter link).

There’s more as the top prospects met with the media today in New York:

  • Lonzo Ball confirmed to reporters his only pre-draft meeting was with the Lakers, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of Ball also believes L.A. traded D’Angelo Russell to open up a spot for him and he can see that “the Lakers have a plan.” He adds that the Lakers haven’t promised to take him, relays Adam Zagoria of Fanrag Sports (Twitter link), saying, “We’ll just find out tomorrow night.” Ball also explained why he turned down a session with the Celtics when they had the top pick, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “If it’s either play for the hometown or go No. 1, I’d rather play for the hometown,” Ball said.
  • Frank Ntilikina met with the Knicks front office today, including team president Phil Jackson, according to Ian Begley of (Twitter link). The French point guard, who is reportedly in strong consideration with New York’s No. 8 pick, said the team wanted to meet him in person.
  • Dennis Smith Jr. also met with Jackson and the Knicks front office, Begley relays (Twitter link). The North Carolina State point guard believes he can be effective in the triangle offense.
  • Indiana’s OG Anunoby said doctors have assured him that he can resume basketball activities by October or early November, according to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Anunoby had surgery on his right knee after a season-ending injury in January.
  • Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen was a Timberwolves fan growing up, and Minnesota was among the four teams he worked out for, Fischer tweets. The others were the Mavericks, Celtics and Magic, and he had a meeting with the Knicks.
  • Gonzaga’s Zach Collins had private workouts with the Magic, Wolves, Kings, Mavericks and Suns, and a group session with the Lakers, Fischer relays (Twitter link).
  • Duke’s Luke Kennard held individual workouts for the Lakers, Pistons, Knicks and Mavericks (Twitter link).
  • The Nets and Bulls were among the teams to work out international big man Isaiah Hartenstein leading up to the draft, tweets David Pick.
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