Frank Ntilikina

Trade Rumors: Ntilikina, Kings, Rockets, Davis

Despite some recent chatter about teams with interest in second-year point guard Frank Ntilikina, Marc Stein of The New York Times gets the sense that the Knicks aren’t actively exploring the trade market for the 20-year-old. While New York will almost certainly be willing to field inquiries on Ntilikina, there’s a difference between listening and shopping, Stein observes.

While Ntilikina recently fell out of the Knicks’ rotation for three games and has struggled immensely on offense, he’s coming off one of the best games as a pro, as he scored a career-high 18 points in just 20 minutes on Sunday. If he can produce anywhere close to that level on a more consistent basis, he’ll likely secure his place as a long-term building block in New York.

Here are a few more trade-related rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • In a podcast discussion about the Kings, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested that Sacramento could actually be buyers, rather than sellers, at the trade deadline, since the team has exceeded expectations and doesn’t have its own first-round pick this year. “Sacramento is not incentivized to lose,” Windhorst said, per Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. “If anything, Sacramento will be gunning to think they have a chance to make the playoffs. Sacramento is actually one of the teams I’ve heard is out there on the trade market looking to improve itself because they have no incentive to tank.”
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer explores a few potential trade options for the Rockets, arguing that the team needs wings and forwards with size and experience. O’Connor lists James Johnson, DeMarre Carroll, Markieff Morris, and Jeff Green as some veterans that could appeal to Houston.
  • With the Pelicans playing in Boston on Monday night, Anthony Davis trade speculation has been a popular subject so far this week. Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com explained why those whispers aren’t going away anytime soon, while Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry made light of the topic by joking with Celtics GM Danny Ainge about it, as Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald relays. As for Davis, he once again dismissed that chatter, telling Bontemps that he’s just focused on getting New Orleans back into the playoffs and making a deeper run than last year.
  • In an excellent, Insider-only breakdown for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks takes a team-by-team look at the trade market, identifying trade candidates, restrictions, and much more.

Knicks Notes: Lee, Trier, Knox, Ntilikina

Courtney Lee will be getting more playing time, but not at the NBA level, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks are sending Lee, who has missed most of the season with a neck injury, to their G League affiliate in Westchester so he can rack up minutes in tomorrow night’s game against Lakeland.

The 33-year-year-old is averaging just 10.8 minutes in four games since returning to the lineup, stuck in a crowded backcourt on a team now committed to finding time for Frank Ntilikina. Lee admits he needs to work on conditioning and suggested the idea of spending time in the G League.

“It’s going to take a while to get reactivated to game-speed, game-like situations,” he said. “It’ll probably take couple of weeks to get back a rhythm and feel chemistry with the guys. I’ve been thrown out there with those guys and trying to play on the fly. Next couple of weeks, I’ll start to feel comfortable out there.”

Lee is scheduled to rejoin the Knicks following Wednesday night’s game. The team is hoping to build up his value in hopes of working out a deal before the February 7 deadline to get his $12.76MM salary for next season off the books.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Rookie guard Allonzo Trier strained his left hamstring and won’t be re-evaluated until next week, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Trier, who is getting close to the 45-day NBA limit on his two-way contract, will remain with the team while he rehabs the injury, but the time won’t add to his service days. Berman notes that it will give the front office more time to decide what to do once he reaches the limit, whether it involves waiving Ron Baker or Luke Kornet or trying to work out a trade (Twitter link).
  • Coach David Fizdale has been using Kevin Knox at power forward more often to boost his rebounding numbers, which paid off Sunday as he collected 11 boards, notes Peter Botte of The New York Post. It marked the first double-digit rebounding night for Knox. “I’ve really been stressing to him rebounding and getting in the trench,” Fizdale said. “We do a lot of block-out drills, just trying to get him used to the physicality of the league, trying to fast-track him that way. And so he’s taken it to heart, and he’s going to get the ball.”
  • Ntilikina’s 18-point explosion in the second half Sunday night is a sign that he will eventually reward the Knicks’ patience, contends Shlomo Sprung of Forbes.

Knicks Notes: Walker, Knox, Ntilikina, Trier

Bronx native and current Hornets guard Kemba Walker is set to play at Madison Square Garden when his team takes on the Knicks Sunday, one of three games between the clubs this season.

His homecoming return to New York will commence just seven months before the 28-year-old reaches free agency.

“I’ve been hearing it for years now — the Knicks,” Walker said this past August, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “Every time I come home, it’s, ‘When are you coming home to the Knicks?’ MSG is a special place, man. The Knicks are a special team. Of course, I’ve been a Knicks fan growing up, always rooted for the home team. But I really can’t see myself in a Knicks jersey — only because I’ve been in one jersey. I really don’t know.”

The Knicks will have the cap space to sign Walker on a maximum-salary contract if the two sides express interest in each other next summer, but Hornets owner Michael Jordan is said to seriously value Walker’s services.

Walker, a former University of Connecticut standout, has averaged a career-high 25.8 points, 6.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game this season. The Knicks currently have Frank Ntilikina as the only point guard under contract next season.

“What kid doesn’t want to play in MSG?” Walker said Friday, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play there many, many times during my basketball career. Every chance I get to play there, I try to embrace it. I just love playing there.”

“I will always have an attachment to and a love of that city,” Walker said. “That city made me who I am today.”

There’s more out of New York today:

  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari believes the critics of Kevin Knox need to be patient, Berman writes in a separate story. “He’s got to figure this stuff,” Calipari said. “I told the Knicks and everybody recruiting — they’re 19, 18, 20, not 25 years old. But what you have is a 6-9, 6-10 player who’s multi-dimensional, who can score and is just going to get better and better when he matures and physically fills out.”
  • David Fizdale‘s harsh message to Frank Ntilikina was delivered, and now it’s time for Ntilikina to see more playing time, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes. Ntilikina played 15 minutes against the Nets on Saturday, but was benched the previous three games. Fizdale has made it clear to Ntilikina that he must earn his playing time with the team.
  • Dan Feldman of NBC Sports writes an in-depth story on Allonzo Trier‘s journey to the NBA, dating back to when the 22-year-old was in grade school. Trier has averaged 11.3 points in 27 games with the Knicks this season, providing solid play on both ends of the floor.

New York Notes: Lee, Ntilikina, Crabbe, Fultz

Courtney Lee feels like he’s in training camp after missing the first 24 games of the season with a neck injury, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Lee showed obvious signs of rust in two games this week, making just two of seven shots from the field.

“It’s going to take a while to get reactivated to game-speed, game-like situations,’’ he said. “It’ll probably take couple of weeks to get back a rhythm and feel chemistry with the guys. I’ve been thrown out there with those guys and trying to play on the fly. Next couple of weeks, I’ll start to feel comfortable out there.”

Lee’s future with the Knicks remains uncertain as his age (33) and contract don’t fit in with the organization’s plans for the future. The Knicks are hoping to make an impact in free agency next summer and would like to unload Lee’s deal, which will pay him more than $12.76MM next season. Berman suggests the team may showcase him in the coming weeks in an effort to spark a trade.

There’s more from New York City:

  • After being held out of three straight games, Frank Ntilikina appears to be returning to the Knicks‘ rotation, Berman relays in the same story. Ntilikina will likely be used as the backup point guard while Trey Burke is sidelined with a sprained knee. “Frank’s a professional, he understands the game,’’ said coach David Fizdale. “He does a good job controlling what he can control. He’s doing extra work and supporting teammates and doing a great job at it. I wouldn’t say it’s a setback. It’s part of the NBA process. Frank’s handling it very well and learning how to be supportive of teammates.”
  • The pursuit of Allen Crabbe has been the only major mistake by Sean Marks since taking over as GM of the Nets, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Marks signed Crabbe to a four-year, $75MM offer sheet in 2016 that was matched by the Trail Blazers, then traded for him a year later. Crabbe’s scoring average has fallen under 10 PPG for the first time in four seasons and he is shooting just 25% on 2-point shots. Lowe notes that he’s not contributing enough in any other area to make up for his decline in offense.
  • The Nets‘ record on player development makes them a perfect environment for Markelle Fultz, contends Michael Smeltz of NetsDaily. Smeltz states that a trade for Fultz could speed up Brooklyn’s rebuilding process after mixed results on deals for D’Angelo Russell and Crabbe.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Hezonja, Wall, Dotson

Before getting his third consecutive DNP-CD on Thursday night, Frank Ntilikina offered some terse answers when asked about his role, perhaps conveying a little frustration, as Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. Meanwhile, head coach David Fizdale made some ominous comments when asked about his lineup decisions involving Ntilikina and other Knicks.

“I got a front office that supports me in that,” Fizdale said. “We have to know who’s moving forward out of this group. And it won’t be every single player on this roster, unfortunately. That’s the nature of the business. We have to come out of this year knowing who those guys it’s going to be moving forward with us.”

After Thursday’s game, in which the Knicks surrendered 128 points, Fizdale acknowledged that maybe he should’ve given a strong defender like Ntilikina the opportunity to play, per Steve Popper of Newsday.

“I can always look at him,” Fizdale said. “It ain’t like he’s out, though. Again, it’s going to be a long season. Frank will be getting his opportunities again.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Fizdale said on Thursday that Mario Hezonja is still in New York’s starting lineup because of his effort on defense, as Popper notes. Berman of The New York Post passes along a tweet from former Knicks executive Clarence Gaines Jr. questioning Fizdale’s explanation, while sources also told Berman that Hezonja was happier during his Orlando days when he was in the starting five.
  • Following up on a pair of reports from earlier this week, Ian Begley of ESPN.com says (via Twitter) that the Knicks haven’t had any internal discussions about a possible trade for John Wall and haven’t heard from the Nets or Pistons about Damyean Dotson. Berman previously reported that people around the league believed the Knicks were gearing up to make a push for Wall and said that Detroit and Brooklyn had shown the most interest in Dotson.
  • Lance Thomas is getting close to returning to action, but – like Courtney Lee before him – may have a hard time carving out major minutes in a crowded rotation, Berman writes for The New York Post. Thomas and Lee look like potential trade candidates this season, so New York may make an effort to showcase both players.
  • Ten months after Kristaps Porzingis suffered his ACL tear, there’s still no set timetable for his return to the court, according to Berman.

Knicks Considering John Wall Trade?

The Knicks‘ long-term answer at the point guard position may not be in the roster and some within the league believe the team is gearing up to make the Wizards an offer for John Wall, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports.

Berman writes that the Knicks are “stocking up” their young talent and could attempt to put together a package for the former All-Star should the Wizards make him available. The offer would involve Frank Ntilikina, Damyean Dotson and Courtney Lee as well as a 2020 first-rounder and a future second-rounder as part of a three-team deal, Berman suggests.

It was previously reported that there were no untouchables on Washington’s roster, though that was when the team was 6-12 and looking at a lost season. The Wizards have since gone 4-2, pulling themselves closer to their lofty playoff goals.

Wall has not played his best basketball this year. However, it would be hard to argue that he wouldn’t be an upgrade over New York’s current point guard situation.

[RELATED: John Wall drawing very little trade interest]

Ntilikina has fallen out of the rotation and it’s unclear whether the team believes he can play the position long-term. Emmanuel Mudiay hasn’t proven to be consistent as the starter and Trey Burke was demoted to backup before suffering an MCL injury.

The upgrade to Wall would come with heavy financial and opportunity costs. The team expects to be a major player in free agency and Wall’s $37.8MM salary for the 2019/20 season would severely impact the franchise’s ability to make a splash.

Atlantic Notes: Ntilikina, McConnell, Celtics, Burke

As Frank Ntilikina has fallen out of the Knicks‘ rotation, a handful of other teams around the NBA have been linked to the second-year guard, with the Magic, Suns, and Grizzlies among the clubs said to have shown some interest in Ntilikina.

Ian Begley of ESPN.com added another name to that list over the weekend, reporting (via Twitter) that the Nets have also expressed interest in the Knicks guard. Brooklyn already has a pair of solid point guards – Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell – in its backcourt, but both players will be free agents at season’s end, while Ntilikina remains under team control through 2021.

However, if the Nets did inquire on Ntilikina, it sounds like they were just doing its due diligence — a team source tells Brian Lewis of The New York Post that Brooklyn has no interest in acquiring the former eighth overall pick from the crosstown Knicks.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Appearing last week on The Russillo Show, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned that he’s “very confident” the Sixers could have acquired a first-round pick in exchange for T.J. McConnell within the last few weeks, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays. Wojnarowski had previously reported that the 76ers weren’t looking to move McConnell. Woj is obviously more plugged in than any other NBA reporter, so it’s hard to doubt his intel, but I’d have to think that there’s a catch here — perhaps the pick would have been heavily protected, or the Sixers would have had to take on some salary.
  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton explores the Sixers‘ options with Markelle Fultz, writing that the team doesn’t have to make a decision on the former No. 1 overall pick right away, with the trade deadline still two months off.
  • While the Celtics still have an enviable collection of assets to put in play if they take a big swing on the trade market, the value of some of those assets has depreciated a little this season, as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report details. Boston’s first-round picks from the Kings, Clippers, and Grizzlies may not be as valuable as initially anticipated, given how those teams have performed, and Jaylen Brown has taken a step back in his development so far.
  • Trey Burke sustained a mild MCL sprain on Saturday and will be re-evaluated sometime this weekend, the Knicks announced today (via Twitter). Earlier today, we passed along some comments Burke made about his upcoming free agency.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Knox, Robinson, Vonleh

Frank Ntilikina is the latest victim of coach David Fizdale’s changing rotation, never leaving the bench in Saturday night’s win over the Bucks, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. The Knicks were down a guard after Trey Burke sprained his right knee in the first minute of the game, but Fizdale never turned to Ntilikina, making it the first DNP-CD of his brief NBA career.

“It’s not frustration,” Ntilikina said after the game. “I think it’s motivation because as a competitor, you want to be out there on the court to help your team. My job and my mindset is to keep working harder to be able to get back on the court.”

Ntilikina has started 14 games this season, but has seen his playing time reduced while suffering through a shooting slump. Fizdale has remained supportive and issued a reminder that other players have found themselves in the same situation.

“As you could see with these guys, none of them are ever in the dungeon,” Fizdale said. “He was the example of my postgame speech because if you watch our bench tonight, he was the most energetic, the first one up, the first one rooting guys on, the one making sure people knew what they were supposed to do coming out of timeouts. And that’s not easy when you’re getting a DNP. But as you know and as they know, I will come back to him in no time. [Damyean Dotson] is a perfect testament of that.”

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Kevin Knox responded to league-wide questions about his ability with a career-best performance Saturday, notes Kevin Kernan of The New York Post. Knox scored 26 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, as New York knocked off one of the league’s best teams. “Fiz is always going to have confidence in me,” the rookie forward said. “He just wants me to keep playing hard. He talked to me about that the other day. It shows how much confidence in me to keep me out there the whole game.”
  • Fizdale is willing to endure the growing pains for Knox and Mitchell Robinson and won’t consider a trip to the G League for either one, Popper relays in a separate story“I’ve got a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old trying to figure out the NBA, the league that’s full of the absolute best players in the world, the best coaches in the world, doing it in the absolute toughest market in America,” Fizdale said. “Give them a break. These guys are learning on the fly.”
  • In an interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post, Noah Vonleh explains why he chose the Knicks in free agency.

Suns Notes: Holmes, Melton, Okobo, Canaan

Richaun Holmes has settled in as the Suns’ backup center since Tyson Chandler‘s contract was bought out, as Katherine Fitzgerald of the Arizona Republic notes. Holmes has averaged 7.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 1.4 BPG in 15.9 MPG during the month of November. Coach Igor Kokoskov cites Holmes’ biggest asset as something that goes beyond box scores. “Energy is a talent, we always say, and that’s his job,” Kokoskov said. “He helps his team, and for him to understand his role, and just embrace it, is a huge thing for our team.” Holmes, who was acquired from the Sixers during the summer, has a $1.6MM contract that doesn’t become fully guaranteed until January 10th. He’l be an unrestricted free agent in July.

We have more on the Suns:

  • Rookie point guards and second-round picks De’Anthony Melton and Elie Okobo have been bouncing back and forth between the NBA and G League and it’s proving beneficial, as Bob Young of The Athletic details. The duo has gained experience by playing and practicing at both levels. Melton has appeared in four games with the Suns and five with Northern Arizona. Okobo has seen action in 12 NBA and two G League games. “I think it’s helping me a lot,” Melton told Young. “I trained for it all summer, to be a point guard. I don’t think it matters to me. I’m fine getting off the ball. Down in the G League, I got to handle the ball a lot and really run a team and show what I can do.”
  • Kokoskov expects point guard Isaiah Canaan to quickly find another NBA job, Gina Mizell of The Athletic writes. The team waived Canaan on Wednesday after he lost his starting job. “It’s just a pure business decision,” Kokoskov said. “I wish him nothing but the best, and he’ll be good. I know a lot of teams (will have) interest in him.” The Suns have two open roster spots, which will facilitate a potential trade for a more accomplished floor leader. Devin Booker has been moved from shooting guard to the point for at least the short run.
  • The Suns are one of the teams interested in acquiring second-year point guard Frank Ntilikina from the Knicks. Get all the details here.

Knicks Notes: Knox, Ntilikina, Porzingis, Robinson, Lee

The Knicks’ lottery picks over the last two years, point guard Frank Ntilikina and wing Kevin Knox, have been called soft by rival scouts and other league personnel interviewed by the New York Post’s Marc Berman. Knox was also labelled as selfish offensively, settling for long-range jumpers and refusing to move the ball. Ntilikina was knocked for lacking of acumen expected of a floor leader. Coach David Fizdale bristled at the criticism, according to tweet from Newsday’s Steve Popper. “Give them a break,” he said. “These guys are learning on the fly.” Knox said he’ll take the knocks in a constructive way, as Popper relays. “I love the criticism because that’s just going to help me go watch film and make sure I can get better at that,” Knox said.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Knox is eager to establish chemistry with Kristaps Porzingis, Berman reports in a separate story. Porzingis could return in late December from the ACL tear he suffered last season. “It will be great to get him on the court and get the connection going a bit see how it is to play with an All-Star,” he said. “It will be pretty fun when he gets back. Hopefully, we’ll connect.”
  • Fizdale said there’s no talk of sending Knox and fellow rookie Mitchell Robinson to the G League’s Westchester Knicks, Berman writes in another piece. “I’m keeping both of them with us,’’ Fizdale said. “Through whatever tough times we go through, that’s what we have to go through with them right now. But I want them with our guys, playing with our guys, interacting with our guys, having successes and suffering with our guys.”
  • Courtney Lee could make his season debut against the Bucks on Saturday, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic tweets. Fizdale said the veteran shooting guard is probable to play, Vorkunov adds. Lee has been sidelined with a neck injury.