Frank Ntilikina

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Rebuild, Russell, Dinwiddie

The Knicks kicked off the second half with a 120-113 win over the Magic in Orlando. As planned, the trio of Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Trey Burke shared the backcourt duties with veteran Jarrett Jack taking a DNP. Burke contributed 26 points in 29 minutes while Ntilikina (29 minutes) and Mudiay (22 minutes) also tallied significant time.

While the acquisition of Mudiay at the deadline signaled the Knicks’ plan to acquire young talent, the 19-year-old Ntilikina should not worry about his standing with the team, Al Iannozzone of Newsday writes.

“You look at Frank right now and he’s a great defender for a 19-year-old kid,” Hornacek said. “The offense will come — his speed and strength, all that stuff. You can’t expect a lot more from a 19-year-old kid. So he’s been great.”

The Knicks have made it clear that the second half of the season will revolve around young players and essentially auditioning for the future. Ntilikina is as strong a part of that future as anybody on the roster.

Check out other NBA news out of New York:

  • A solid early start to the season fooled many into thinking the Knicks could make a run at the playoffs. With 22 games left, the postseason is all but ruled out and the team must now focus on the future, Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes. Sloppy play on the road and numerous injuries stalled what looked to be a promising season in the first two months. “You still go back to, ‘It’s kind of a long-term plan.’ We got off to a good start, maybe changed everyone’s thoughts. But they were home games, we knew we had a long way to go,” Hornacek said.
  • D’Angelo Russell made his first start for the Nets since mid-November on Thursday and the plan to have him and Spencer Dinwiddie share the backcourt is in full-swing, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. “We’ve started to do it more, get a sample size. It’s something similar to Jeremy [Lin] and D’Angelo in the beginning,” Atkinson said. “I do like that. I do like having two guards that can really handle the ball.”
  • Michael Scotto of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) takes a look at Sean Marks‘ reign as Nets general manager and the organization’s transformation in two years under Marks’ watch.

Knicks Notes: Mudiay, Ntilikina, Williams, Draft

It looks like the Knicks will have a new starting point guard when the season resumes Thursday, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Emmanuel Mudiay, acquired from the Nuggets in a three-team deal at the deadline, appears ready to take the place of veteran Jarrett Jack, who has started 56 games this season.

“Definitely means something to me. I’m not going to take it for granted,” said Mudiay, who has been practicing with the Knicks’ starters. “I came in as a lottery pick so I was kind of handed the spot and stuff like that. So the fact that I’m in that position again, it’s a blessing. Thank God for it. I just have to take full advantage.”

New York’s front office has ordered coach Jeff Hornacek to give more minutes to young players for the rest of the season, Bondy adds. The coach has already made the decision to remove Jack from the starting lineup and has talked to the 34-year-old about cutting his playing time. Jack will be a free agent this summer.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • The Knicks were grooming rookie Frank Ntilikina to be the starting point guard going into January, but a decline in his performance and the acquisitions of Mudiay and Trey Burke changed those plans, Bondy adds in the same story. Ntilikina will still see increased playing time, but it may come at the two-guard spot. “I think he hit a little bit of a wall. The energy, and his knee [was hurting],” Hornacek said. “Hey, these kids come from another country. Now, all of a sudden, they’re having to travel every other day, play in games, and do all this stuff and he just looked exhausted at some times.”
  • Troy Williams, who signed a 10-day contract with the Knicks this morning, is looking forward to the opportunity, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. “Great opportunity, great fit,” Williams said. “Their interest level here was a little bit higher than everybody else’s.” Williams, who was waived by the Rockets last week, will concentrate on what he needs to do to extend his stay in New York beyond 10 days, adding, “Right now my main role is just being an extra athletic guy, run the court and defend.”
  • Begley examines the most important questions surrounding the Knicks for the rest of this season and beyond in an ESPN story. Topics include the future of Hornacek, who has one year left on his contract, how Kristaps Porzingis‘ injury will affect the team in free agency and the Knicks’ plans for the draft, where they reportedly like Michigan State’s Miles Bridges and Villanova’s Mikal Bridges if they stay in the middle part of the lottery.

Atlantic Notes: Dinwiddie, Marks, Irving, Ntilikina

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie added to his breakout season Saturday by winning the Skills Challenge, but it’s going to be a while before he can cash in on his success. Dinwiddie is making the league minimum of $1,524,305 this season with a team option for next season at the minimum of $1,656,092.

As detailed recently by Danny Leroux of Real GM, the three-year contract Dinwiddie signed in December of 2016 limits Brooklyn’s options. It can’t be renegotiated and extended under the latest CBA because it’s shorter than four years, and the Nets don’t want to decline the option and risk losing Dinwiddie in free agency. It would be possible to extend the deal without a renegotiation, which would get him to about $45MM over four seasons, but Dinwiddie may be able to do far better by waiting another year for free agency.

Brooklyn can offer Dinwiddie a larger extension on the second anniversary of his signing date, as the Sixers did with Robert Covington, but that wouldn’t change his salary for next season. It would also cut into the Nets’ cap ahead of 2019 free agency, when the team is hoping to be a major player.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Even though they’ll be one of the few teams with significant cap room, the Nets won’t feel compelled to make a splash in free agency this summer, GM Sean Marks tells NetsDaily.com. Brooklyn isn’t committed to a repeat of last July when it made a $100MM offer to Otto Porter, only to see it matched by the Wizards. “So what’s next,” Marks asked. “It’s not ‘We didn’t get Otto Porter so let’s go spend a lot of money in this direction, in that direction,’ knowing these are the non-negotiables that we’ve put out there on why we’re signing guys, why we’re not signing guys, stick to that plan.”
  • Knicks fans may find some hope in comments that Celtics guard Kyrie Irving relayed Saturday about Kristaps Porzingis, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post“I told him I would love to play with a big like you, man, when we played them in the beginning of the season when he came to Boston,’’ Irving said. “He’s so versatile. So I wish him nothing but the best and hope he comes back even stronger.” Irving will be a free agent in the summer of 2019, which is the next time the Knicks will have a healthy amount of cap space. Porzingis is expected to be fully healed from ACL surgery by then and could give Irving, who grew up in West Orange, N.J., a reason to consider coming to New York.
  • Knicks rookie Frank Ntilikina will spend most of the offseason in France and doesn’t plan to play in the Las Vegas Summer League, Berman reports in a separate story. The front office hasn’t discussed the offseason with Ntilikina and may send a developmental coach to France if that happens.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Carter, Nets

The Celtics would benefit more from a Marcus Smart return than a Gordon Hayward one, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. The scribe suggests that the reserve guard would help the C’s snap out of their recent skid.

For starters, Blakely cites the drop in the Celtics’ defensive rating pre- and post-Smart injury. Boston was second in the NBA with a 99.7 defensive rating before he injured his hand and have been ninth since. Blakely also points to Smart’s effect on team chemistry and the pressure he takes off fellow defenders as reasons why the C’s would be buoyed by his return.

In late December it was announced that Smart would miss two weeks due to a hand laceration that may or may not have been sustained punching a picture frame. The 23-year-old is expected to be back in the lineup after the All-Star Break.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets will need to shore up their defense and rebounding if they want to turn a recent losing skid around after the All-Star Break, Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. “We’re trying the best we can to find the right lineups that work out there,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We’ve tried a bunch of stuff. We’ve gone small a ton, we’ve tried bigger lineups, we’ve tried two-guard lineups. We’re still searching.
  • The Raptors have put a possible Vince Carter reunion on hold for at least the rest of this season, Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets. Reports last week indicated that Toronto had interest in potentially bringing Carter back, but the Kings prefer not to buy out the veteran forward.
  • The Knicks have limped into the All-Star break on an eight-game losing streak. Rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, one of the 10 players chosen to represent the World Roster at the NBA Rising Starts Challenge tonight, hopes to take the weekend as an opportunity to take his mind off things and soak in advice, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.

Knicks Notes: Jack, Ntilikina, PGs, Hornacek

When the Knicks return from the All-Star break, their backcourt rotation may look a little different, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. As Bondy details, Jarrett Jack has been New York’s starting point guard for 56 of the team’s 59 games this season, but that figures to change in the coming weeks as the club focuses on developing its younger players.

While it’s not clear who will replace Jack in the starting lineup, or whether the veteran’s role will be altogether eliminated, head coach Jeff Hornacek said that the Knicks expect to give more minutes to some combination Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Trey Burke — the club may even play two of those young point guards alongside one another at times, writes Bondy.

Getting Ntilikina more action at his natural point guard spot is also a priority for the Knicks, per Hornacek. We don’t want (Ntilikina) to always be off the ball,” Hornacek said. “We want to play him on the ball. So that he continues to get that taste of the point guard position.”

As we wait to see what the Knicks’ new rotation looks like, here are a few more notes on the lottery-bound club:

  • Within his post on the Knicks’ point guard plans, Bondy includes an interesting note on Jeff Hornacek, writing that it’s “hard to envision a scenario where he returns next season.” Bondy isn’t reporting outright that the Knicks are expected to make a coaching change, but it sure sounds like he thinks it’ll happen.
  • The Knicks currently have the ninth-worst record in the NBA, and they’ll have a tough time passing many of the team’s above them in our Reverse Standings. Taking that into account, Marc Berman of The New York Post takes a closer look at a couple prospects who could be available at No. 9 for the Knicks: Villanova’s Mikal Bridges and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges.
  • On Wednesday, we passed along the latest updates on the season-ending injuries suffered by Kristaps Porzingis and Ron Baker.

New York Notes: Prigioni, Knicks, Ntilikina, Nets

The Knicks are considering a reunion with old friend Pablo Prigioni, but as a developmental coach rather than as a player, two industry sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post. Prigioni, who played for the Knicks from 2012 to 2015, has retired as a player and was named the coach of Spanish team Baskonia last summer, but had to step down after just eight games due to family issues, a source tells Berman.

Now, Prigioni is back in New York, with a source telling Berman that the former NBA point guard is spending the week with the Nets to learn about Brooklyn’s basketball operation. While it’s unclear whether the Nets are also interested in hiring Prigioni, the 40-year-old is “exploring” whether he wants to become a personnel man, says Berman.

As we wait to see whether Prigioni returns stateside to take a job with one of the NBA’s New York teams, let’s round up a few more notes on those two clubs…

  • New Knicks point guard Emmanuel Mudiay is excited to develop alongside rookie Frank Ntilikina, as Berman details for The New York Post. “We’re going to grow together,” Mudiay said. “At least that’s what I know is the plan right now. He’s 19, I’m 21, so we’re both kind of close in age. He speaks French. I speak French. It’s going to be fun, just trying to see how we feel each other out on the court.”
  • Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report outlines why the two trades the Knicks made last week are representative of GM Scott Perry‘s plan for the franchise. Weitzman also cites league sources who say that the Knicks turned away numerous trade proposals for Ntilikina prior to last Thursday’s deadline.
  • The Nets‘ acquisition of Dante Cunningham last week was a move that flew under the radar, but GM Sean Marks says he expects Cunningham to fill a key positional need in Brooklyn. Tom Dowd of BrooklynNets.com has the story.

Knicks Notes: Mudiay, Ntilikina, Kornet, Noah

If Emmanuel Mudiay makes his Knicks debut today, he won’t have much preparation, writes Anthony Rieber of Newsday. Acquired Thursday from the Nuggets in a three-team trade, Mudiay wasn’t permitted to practice Saturday because the transaction wasn’t official. Devin Harris, who was sent to Denver in the deal, had yet to complete his physical. All coach Jeff Hornacek could do was talk to Mudiay, who is expected to suit up if the deal gets finalized before today’s 4:00 pm Central game in Indiana.

“Wish he could have been able to get out there and go through things, but he wasn’t allowed to,” Horacek said. “We’re going to have to continue to talk to him. Unfortunately, it’s an early game, so we won’t have a shootaround, but we’ll go over things with him on film. He was able to watch things, at least. I think he has a pretty good idea, so I don’t think it’ll take long for him to adjust.”

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Mudiay’s addition to an already-crowded point guard situation will result in fewer minutes for some players, but Hornacek expects them to handle it like professionals, Rieber adds in the same story. The coach isn’t worried about a negative attitude from rookie Frank Ntilikina, who has watched the organization add four point guards since he was drafted with the No. 8 pick in June. “To me, mentally weak guys think that,” Hornacek said. “Mentally strong guys don’t think that. They say, ‘OK, bring on whoever. I don’t care.’ I can see that in Frank. He has that mentality.”
  • Luke Kornet‘s impressive NBA debut made the decision to trade Willy Hernangomez easier to understand, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Kornet had 11 points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes Friday and became the first player ever with four blocks and three 3-pointers in his first game. Kornet’s breakout performance makes it even more unlikely that Joakim Noah will return from his leave of absence this year, according to Berman, who adds that the Knicks tried to send the veteran center to Orlando in a deal for Elfrid Payton.
  • Enes Kanter, who has a player option for next season worth more than $18.6MM, wants to spend the rest of his career in New York, relays Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Kanter said the city has a negative reputation in some NBA circles, but he believes in the front office led by president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry. “I like this place, man,” Kanter said. “It’s weird because people are scared to come to New York because they think New York is scary, all these bad things but I think this organization is good, man. These guys, Scott and Steve, the coaches and everything. They are just making sure you got everything you need so you can just focus on basketball.”

Atlantic Notes: Mudiay, Ntilikina, Bruno, Ainge

The Knicks were interested in both Emmanuel Mudiay and Elfrid Payton as minutes winded down to the trade deadline and the team ultimately decided to swing a deal for Mudiay. Both former lottery pick point guards have been disappointments but Mudiay may have been the more sensible target for the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

While Mudiay and Payton both come with some downside, they are also both still young and possess talent. Berman quotes two executives who believe Mudiay — who is still under contract for one additional season beyond 2017/18 — is a better fit for the Knicks. The Knicks also gave up Doug McDermott, who was not in New York’s future plans, Berman notes.

In 42 games this season, Mudiay has averaged 8.5 PPG and 2.9 APG.

Check out other Knicks news below:

  • While adding another young point guard could be interpreted as the Knicks losing faith in Frank Ntilikina, he is not worried about the acquisition, Newsday’s Al Iannazzone writes. Ntilikina views the addition of Mudiay as a positive that will benefit both sides.  We’re not competing against each other,” Ntilikina said. “We’re going to bring each other to the top to make the Knicks a competitive team. We can both play with the ball, we can both play off the ball, so it might be great for us.”
  • The Raptors‘ trade of Bruno Caboclo to the Kings for Malachi Richardson may not be a major deal on a blockbuster deadline day but it has salary cap implications, Josh Lewenberg of TSN writes. Trading Caboclo sheds nearly $1MM in salary, which gives Toronto flexibility to fill its 15th roster spot without going over the tax line.
  • Despite numerous rumors entering the deadline, the Celtics ultimately kept Marcus Smart. Greg Monroe‘s deal with Boston also became official and the chase for Eastern Conference supremacy continues. Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe spoke to general manager Danny Ainge about the deadline, Smart staying in Boston, and the team’s future — including plans to explore the buyout market.

Knicks Notes: Burke, Ntilikina, Kanter

After his recent G League call-up, Trey Burke has provided a spark for the Knicks which is raising questions of whether he should play more often. Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that Burke, who scored 18 points for a second straight game in Friday’s win over the Suns, has impressed thus far.

In six games, Burke has averaged 9.3 PPG and 3.8 APG. With rookie Frank Ntilikina struggling and veteran Jarrett Jack also on the roster, it’s to question whether or not the former lottery pick Burke, 25, should see more playing time.

“I’m satisfied we won, but I got to be ready to play,” Burke said. “Guys are required to produce when their number is called. If you’re not locked in as you need to be, you saw some of my possession that I had. My teammates stuck with me. My coaches stuck with me, and I played through it, and we rolled with what was working.’’

Head coach Jeff Hornacek added that when Burke plays this well, “we got to find time for him.”

Check out other Knicks news below:

  • Frank Isola of the New York Daily News argues that while Burke is worth a long look, his opportunity should not come at the expense of the rookie Ntilikina. Isola writes that while Burke and Jack are solid players who fill a role, Ntilikina should be given the keys to the kingdom and take over as the starting point guard after the All-Star break.
  • Things got heated in the Knicks’ win on Friday between Enes Kanter and Suns guard Devin Booker, per ESPN. Booker was ejected after he shoved Kanter, earning his second technical foul. After the game, the issue went to Twitter with Kanter calling out Booker; teammate Jared Dudley fired back at Kanter in a series of tweets.

Knicks Notes: Burke, Hardaway, Trade Deadline

Trey Burke‘s performance in the two games since signing with the Knicks has given the team a “puzzle” at point guard, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Burke has exhibited instant chemistry with former college teammate Tim Hardaway Jr. and was used to close out Friday’s win in Utah.

“I can just read him on the floor anywhere, especially when he’s coming downhill,’’ Hardaway said. “Yeah, it was immediate. I kind of know his game so well. Even when I wasn’t playing with him the past couple of years, I definitely watched him in Utah, Washington. I still know what he can do on the court, and what he’s able to do both offensively and defensively. It felt like old times.”

The Knicks are giving Burke an audition to see if they want to bring him back for next season, Berman notes. The point guard position is unsettled with rookie Frank Ntilikina not ready to be a starter and veteran Jarrett Jack unlikely to return. Ramon Sessions was waived last week, and a trade with the Hornets for Kemba Walker remains a possibility.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Burke turned down a $3MM offer from China and opted to play for the Knicks’ G League affiliate, relays Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “[Knicks GM] Scott Perry, that’s my guy,” Burke said. “He told me he was going to give me an opportunity to come [to Westchester] and start there, and if I do what I do, he’ll give me an opportunity [with the Knicks]. Now we’re here, I just got to continue to get better.”
  • Hardaway has boosted the Knicks’ offense in the four games since returning to the lineup and is determined to make the playoffs, relays Al Iannazzone of Newsday. After missing about six weeks with a stress injury in his left leg, Hardaway is averaging 22 points per game and shooting 52.6% from the field since he started playing again. “I feel like with our group, we have that fire and that desire and in our heart [the goal] is to make the playoffs one hundred percent,” he said. “If we don’t make the playoffs, we’re going to go home in April upset.”
  • Finding a point guard before next month’s trade deadline remains among the Knicks’ priorities, along with a starter at the wing and a rim protector, Iannazzone notes in a separate story. He doesn’t expect the team to get all three, but it will be active in trade talks. He adds that the Knicks want to be aggressive in the 2019 free agent market and won’t be interested in Walker if it means taking one of Charlotte’s expensive, long-term contracts.
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