Frank Ntilikina

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Westbrook, Nets, Durant

Frank Ntilikina‘s name has come up increasingly frequently in trade rumors in recent months, with Ian Begley of writing that the Knicks talked to at least one team prior to the draft about trading the former No. 8 overall selection in a deal for an early second-round pick. The Knicks have also discussed moving Ntilkina for a late first-round pick, Begley adds.

Still, Ntilkina remains under contract in New York for now, and told reporters – including Begley – this week that that’s just fine with him.

“I’m happy to be a Knick,” Ntilikina said. “I still take as much as I can get from every situation that I can. I’m in their jersey. I’m happy to be a Knick. I’m happy to be here. I’ll work very hard to make this situation successful.”

Assuming the Knicks don’t move Ntilikina before the season begins, he’ll once again face plenty of competition at the point guard spot in 2019/20. Dennis Smith and Kadeem Allen will be back, with Elfrid Payton entering the picture as well. Head coach David Fizdale had Ntilikina play minutes at the two last season, so we’ll if the team tries that again next year.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York franchises:

  • Russell Westbrook isn’t currently on the Knicks‘ radar, a person familiar with the situation tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. If Westbrook remains on the trade block on December 15, when New York’s offseason signees become trade-eligible, the Knicks could explore that avenue, but the team doesn’t plan on doing so for now, says Berman.
  • In an interesting piece for Sports Illustrated, Chris Mannix offers some behind-the-scenes details on the Nets‘ pursuit of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. According to Mannix, the Nets’ medical staff did all the research they could on Durant’s Achilles tear, but had limited information from afar. Days before free agency, GM Sean Marks gathered them and asked for a show of hands on who would be in favor of committing to Durant on a four-year, maximum-salary deal. Every hand went up, per Mannix.
  • After signing a new two-year contract with the Nets, Theo Pinson is making his case for a regular-season roster spot, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Pinson’s new deal has a second-year team option, notes Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Payton, Raptors, Robinson, Jordan

Elfrid Payton will be given every opportunity to become the Knicks’ starting point guard next season, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. Payton agreed to a two-year, $16MM deal with a team option for the second season. Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina are the other candidates for the starting role, though the team has shopped Ntilikina, Begley continues. It’s unclear whether the Knicks would consider a backcourt pairing of Payton and Smith, who started at the point after being acquired from the Mavericks last season.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors have to make more roster moves, regardless of whether Kawhi Leonard stays or goes, Blake Murphy of The Athletic notes. They currently have 10 players under standard NBA contracts, one on a two-way and another on an Exhibit 10 deal. With the Raptors’ needs in mind, Murphy takes a deep dive into the options still on the free agent market at each position.
  • Knicks second-year center Mitchell Robinson has been invited to join the Select Team at USA Basketball’s training camp, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps tweets. Robinson averaged 7.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 2.4 BPG in his rookie campaign.
  • The competition between centers Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan will be the biggest preseason battle in Nets’ camp, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Allen, 21, is seemingly a core piece for the franchise but the presence of Jordan, a close friend of Kevin Durant who agreed to a four-year, $40MM contract, creates a potential dilemma. Jordan may have lost a step, Lewis notes, but he’s been a starter throughout his career.

Knicks Notes: Durant, Leonard, Rozier, Ntilikina

The Knicks’ hopes of adding two stars in free agency now rely on the reported desire of Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard to team up, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New York is among the teams with enough cap space to sign both stars, and ESPN reported yesterday that the Knicks and Clippers are the most likely destinations if they do join forces.

Two other potential Knicks targets came off the board Saturday as Kyrie Irving reached an agreement with the Nets and Kemba Walker committed to the Celtics. A source tells Berman that Walker’s family, particularly his mother, wasn’t interested in moving to New York.

That’s not true for Durant, who likes the idea of living in the nation’s largest city, Berman adds. He had his surgery performed in New York and has several ties to the franchise, serving as a mentor to Allonzo Trier and being friends with free agent center DeAndre Jordan and assistant coach Royal Ivey. The Knicks were considered favorites to sign Durant before his Achilles injury in the NBA Finals and are still strongly in the race, according to Berman. However, the additional year and the extra $57MM that the Warriors can offer could still tip the scale in their favor.

There’s more out of New York:

  • If the Knicks can’t land one of the elite free agents, their next targets will be point guard Terry Rozier and power forwards Julius Randle and Bobby Portis, Berman relays in the same story. They also have what Berman calls “mild” interest in a one-year deal with DeMarcus Cousins.
  • Durant isn’t leaning toward any team as free agency begins, his agent, Rich Kleiman, told Steve Serby of The New York Post. “While I’m doing this interview, Kevin is completely undecided in figuring out what he wants to do,” Kleiman said.
  • Whether the Knicks keep Frank Ntilikina or not, he won’t be part of their Summer League team, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The second-year guard, who has been on the trading block, will compete in the FIBA World Cup later this summer with the French team.

Draft-Night Rumors: Cavs, Suns, Wolves, Nets, Knicks

The Cavaliers remain active in trade discussions, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Cleveland is exploring deals involving J.R. Smith‘s expiring contract in addition to possible trades of the No. 5 pick. Barring a trade, Cleveland remains focused on Darius Garland at No. 5, Woj adds (via Twitter).

Here a few more draft-night rumors worth rounding up:

  • According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link), the Suns felt that the ability to land a starting power forward trumped the opportunity to draft a developmental point guard at No. 6, which is why they made their trade with the Timberwolves for Dario Saric. Phoenix plans on rolling with Tyler Johnson and a free agent signing at the point guard spot, Gambadoro adds.
  • The Timberwolves have engaged in multiple conversations about that No. 6 pick since agreeing to acquire it from the Suns, league sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
  • Two high-ranking sources have told Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link) that the Nets remain “very interested” in signing Kyrie Irving with or without Kevin Durant. Lewis had previously reported that Brooklyn was weighing whether to sign Irving if the team couldn’t get Durant too.
  • Things could change, but for now it looks like Frank Ntilikina may not be traded tonight by the Knicks, tweets Steve Popper of Newsday.

Draft Notes: White, Garland, Hawks, Bazley

The Knicks held a last-minute workout with North Carolina guard Coby White this morning, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It’s the second significant workout in less than 24 hours for New York, which brought in Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland yesterday.

White was impressive in the private session, according to Ian Begley of SNY.TV (Twitter link), and the Knicks are prepared to trade down if they get the right offer. They have also worked out Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and met with Duke’s Cam Reddish, but are still expected to select Duke’s R.J. Barrett if they remain at No. 3.

There’s more draft news as tonight’s event draws closer:

  • Some members of the Knicks organization believe Garland is a better prospect than Barrett, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The Pelicans have discussed teaming Barrett with his Duke pal, Zion Williamson, and may be willing to surrender an asset in addition to the fourth pick to trade up to No. 3. After yesterday’s workout, Garland met with Knicks president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry and coach David Fizdale.
  • If the Knicks draft a point guard, they may look to trade Dennis Smith Jr. along with Frank Ntilikina, tweets Steve Popper of Newsday.
  • The Hawks might not be done moving second-round picks after sending No. 44 to the Heat yesterday and No. 41 to the Warriors this morning. Chris Vivlamore of the Journal-Constitution tweets that Atlanta’s selection at No. 35 is also available.
  • Darius Bazley appears to have a first-round promise from somebody, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic.
  • Scouts tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that Auburn’s Chuma Okeke, Oregon’s Bol Bol, Virginia’s Ty Jerome and Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford are being underrated in pre-draft reports.
  • Teams with late first-rounders are focusing on Villanova’s Eric Paschall, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, who expects him to be taken between 19th and 30th.

Knicks Rumors: Paul, Davis, Free Agency, Ntilikina

Conflicting reports on the dynamics between Chris Paul and James Harden surfaced on Tuesday, with one report describing their relationship as “unsalvagable,” while GM Daryl Morey declared that everything is fine in Houston.

Regardless on exactly where things stand, the Rockets may be stuck with the pairing for the foreseeable future. There’s “not a team in the league” that’s eager to trade for Paul, Shams Charania of The Athletic said on a recent radio appearance (h/t E.Jay Zarett of Sporting News). The veteran point guard will make approximately $38.5MM next season, $41.4MM in 2020/21, and just over $44.2MM on a 2021/22 player option.

“Even some teams that they’ve called, I’m told, as just a [salary] dump, like, ‘We’ll give you Chris Paul for free,’ those teams are like ‘We’re good,'” Charania said (video link). “So the value just is not there right now.”

The Knicks are apparently one team that has passed on the idea of taking on Paul, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who reports that the Rockets recently explored the idea of trading CP3 into New York’s cap space. The Knicks rebuffed that offer, per O’Connor.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Before the Pelicans agreed to trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers, the Knicks “made overtures” for Davis to join them as a free agent in 2020, a league source tells Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. New Orleans wasn’t believed to be fond of the Knicks’ assets, and New York recognized the futility of trying to acquire AD via trade, Beck notes.
  • In a follow-up tweet, Beck wonders if the Knicks’ efforts imply that they don’t expect to land two stars in free agency this summer — the team almost certainly wouldn’t have cap room for Davis in 2020 if two free agents sign max deals this summer.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post, who has previously reported that the Knicks are expected to explore trading Frank Ntilikina for a draft pick, reiterates that the club is “extremely open” to such a deal. New York is still hoping to land a late first-round pick or an early second-rounder for Ntilikina, says Berman.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Latest From Charania: Davis, Beal, Irving, Conley, Suns

The Knicks discussed a trade package for Anthony Davis that included Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith, Thursday’s No. 3 overall pick and other draft compensation, but they never fully offered forward Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. The Pelicans weren’t particularly high on either Knox or Robinson anyway but the Knicks were reluctant to jeopardize their future flexibility because they weren’t convinced Davis would re-sign with them.

Contrary to other reports, the Celtics were open to discussing Jayson Tatum and the future first-rounder owed by the Grizzlies in a trade package for Davis but didn’t want to part with both of those assets, Charania continues. Boston’s unwillingness to give up multiple major assets tipped the scale in the Lakers’ favor. The Nets also made a bid, Charania adds, but the Pelicans weren’t enamored with their available assets, especially since the Nets couldn’t include restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell.

Here are more highlights from Charania:

  • The Rockets were willing to get involved in three-team scenarios in Davis trade talks with Clint Capela being dangled.
  • The Pelicans are monitoring the Wizards’ interest in trading All-Star guard Bradley Beal.
  • The Celtics and impending free agent Kyrie Irving will meet soon, possibly before the draft, to discuss his future with the organization.
  • The Grizzlies have ramped up trade talks involving point guard Mike Conley. The Jazz are the leading contenders for Conley’s services.
  • The Suns have discussed moving the No. 6 pick, as well as forwards T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, in separate trade packages.

Agent: Ntilikina “Extremely Happy” To Be A Knick

MAY 21, 10:22am: Ntilikina’s new agent, Boune Ndiaye, denies that his client’s change in representation is directly linked to a desire to leave the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“I can just tell you that the fact he was not traded has nothing to do with this change of agent,” Ndiaye told Berman. “Frank is extremely happy to be part of the Knicks.”

MAY 20, 3:03pm: The Knicks are expected to shop Frank Ntilikina on the trade market this offseason, and the guard is unlikely to object, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. A source tells Bondy that Ntilikina “desires a relocation.”

As Bondy outlines, Ntilikina had been represented by CAA, but decided to change agencies after the Knicks failed to move him at February’s trade deadline. The plan is for him to be represented by French agent Bouna Ndiaye going forward, as was previously reported by French Knicks Pod.

The change in representation was directly linked to Ntilikina’s desire to be traded, Bondy says in a follow-up tweet, citing a league source.

Ntilikina, the No. 8 pick in the 2017 draft, was selected by Phil Jackson shortly before Jackson was let go by the Knicks. The team’s current management group doesn’t appear to be as invested in the 20-year-old, with reports indicating that New York hopes to get a first-round draft pick in return for him.

Ntilikina saw his role adjusted frequently last season by new head coach David Fizdale, who played the youngster at both guard spots and didn’t give him consistent minutes in a crowded backcourt that also featured Emmanuel Mudiay, Dennis Smith, Trey Burke, Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, and others over the course of the season.

Eastern Notes: Brooks, Ntilikina, Lopez, Knicks

Wizards coach Scott Brooks recently finished his third season with Washington and 10th season as an NBA head coach, reaching a full decade in the position and achieving a goal that very few coaches do these days.

Brooks guided the Wizards through a tumultuous, injury-plagued season and finished with a 32-50 record, causing some around the league to question his future job security. Team owner Ted Leonsis has since decided to keep Brooks entering next season, but Brooks was non-committal on whether the rest of his staff would be joining him for another year.

“I’ve talked to Ted. I definitely talked Ted,” Brooks said, as relayed by Ben Standig of NBC Sports. “I have a lot of respect for our organization. I have to get better, first and foremost…Will the staff remain the same? Every year, staffs change. Every year staffs change. We’re probably going to make some changes. I don’t know if it’s for sure. Everything is still up in the air.”

Brooks shares a close relationship with former Rockets defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik, who was let go from Houston in a surprising move last week. Washington could wind up pursuing Bzdelik or lose some of their assistant coaches – such as Tony Brown – to other teams, Standig notes. Brown was one of Brooks’ lead assistants this past season but is now a coaching free agent.

Regardless of which assistant coaches return for Washington, the team is still seeking a new president of basketball operations and recently offered their vacant position to Denver’s Tim Connelly, according to a report from The Athletic.

“Ted is going to make a [president of basketball operations] decision and I trust that I going to be the best for the program moving forward,” Brooks said. “As of right now, (interim GM Tommy Sheppard) is doing a great job leading the group. We all feel comfortable with what’s going on. Hopefully, things work out and we move forward as an organization. We all have to get better, myself included.”

Here are some other notes from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks will explore a trade centered around Frank Ntilikina in the hopes of landing a late first-round or early second-round draft pick, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. New York explored moving Ntilikina during the regular season but ultimately opted to hold onto him past the NBA’s trade deadline. Ntilikina was drafted by the Knicks with the No. 8 pick in 2017.
  • Brook Lopez‘s big Game 1 showed once again why the Bucks’ decision to sign him was a steal last summer, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Lopez, who is on a one-year, $3.4MM deal, finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in Milwaukee’s Game 1 victory.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks previews the offseason for the Knicks, including potential free-agent targets, the draft, possible trades and future moves. New York is widely expected to pursue top-tier free agents such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker when free agency opens on the night of June 30.

Knicks Notes: Durant, Davis, Draft, Ntilikina

The possibility of Kevin Durant signing with the Knicks overshadowed all other topics as NBA executives gathered this week for the annual combine, relays Steve Popper of Newsday. He states that most of those in attendance consider it a “fait accompli” that the Warriors’ star will be coming to New York when free agency begins in July.

The combine was peppered with talk of a secret meeting between the Knicks and Durant and rumors that a “handshake deal” is already in place, along with endorsement opportunities. That would be a blatant violation of NBA rules and a huge risk for the team to take when the opportunity to legally negotiate with Durant is just six weeks away. However, even those who don’t buy into such conspiracy talk seem convinced that a move is on the way.

Explaining why Durant might be willing to leave a potential three-time champion, one unidentified front office executive speculates that he is tired of constant “prodding” from Warriors coach Steve Kerr and believes he will never replace Stephen Curry as the team’s most important player. That opportunity would come instantly in New York, where Knicks fans have been clamoring for a star for years.

There’s more today from New York:

  • Knicks president Steve Mills wouldn’t discuss the possibility of including the No. 3 pick in a deal for Anthony Davis, but he insists the team is happy about its position coming out of Tuesday’s lottery, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Trade talks for Davis remain on hold as Pelicans executive David Griffin tries to convince his star big man to stay with the team, a source tells Berman. Any trade offer for Davis would have to include the two first-rounders from Dallas that were acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis deal, along with two young prospects from a group that includes Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina.
  • Berman considers it a”virtual certainty” that New York will take Duke’s R.J. Barrett if the draft proceeds as expected. The Knicks rate Murray State’s Ja Morant slightly higher, but Memphis is likely to grab him with the second pick. New York’s front office met with both players Wednesday at the combine. The Knicks also own the 55th pick and could target a power forward in the second round.
  • The Knicks are willing to part with Ntilikina in exchange for another late first round or early second round selection, Berman adds. That would open more cap room to pick up the options on Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson without jeopardizing the ability to offer to max deals in free agency.