Frank Ntilikina

Mavericks Notes: Hardaway, Ntilikina, Porzingis, Cap Situation

Tim Hardaway Jr. is looking to expand his game as Luka Doncic‘s backcourt partner, Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News writes. Hardaway, who served as the sixth man in more than half of the Mavericks’ games last season, will look to boost his defensive presence along with delivering his usual 3-point shooting.

“He’s able to score the ball, but we’re asking him to play defense, too,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’re trying to show him the things that can help him be better at that position, and if he can do those things, I think he can be talked about as an All-Star, too, in this league.”

Hardaway, who signed a four-year, $75MM contract this summer, chose to be a starter this season after Kidd gave him the option of being in the lineup regularly or heading the second unit.

We have more on the Mavericks:

  • Dallas made a strong push for Frank Ntilikina, which the free agent point guard appreciated, he told Marc Stein of Substack. “I felt that will since the beginning of free agency, so that will from them to have me here, that’s what made me want to come here,” the former Knicks guard said. “The challenge is just exciting.” Ntilikina signed a two-year minimum contract, though the second year is non-guaranteed.
  • Kidd believes that Kristaps Porzingis can return to his All-Star form as early as this season, according to Caplan“I think he has the skill set to be an All-Star. He is an All-Star in this league,” Kidd said. “Sometimes we judge people unfairly because of injuries or other things that are going on, and we expect them to be robots or be All-Stars every year.”
  • Despite having two max players, the Mavericks have a favorable cap situation, John Hollinger of The Athletic notes. Dallas is still $16MM below the luxury-tax line, giving the club plenty of elbow room to pursue roster upgrades. Hollinger takes a deep dive into the team’s offseason moves and projects it to finish with the Western Conference’s fifth-best record.

Mavs Notes: Chandler, Powell, Burke, Ntilikina

Former Mavericks center Tyson Chandler doesn’t officially have a role on his old team’s coaching staff, but he’s present at training camp and is sharing his knowledge with Dallas’ players, writes Dwain Price of Mavs.com.

“For me, I just want to help in any way I can,” Chandler said. “(Head coach) Jason (Kidd) called me and said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Nothing much. Working out.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, come by.’ So I came by and I’m just trying to lend my knowledge and help any way I can.”

Chandler isn’t sure whether he wants his unofficial role with the Mavericks to lead to something more formal down the road. For now though, Kidd is happy to have his former teammate around working with the club’s big men.

“He started helping out, and he wanted to see if he loved it,” Kidd said. “We’re lucky to have someone like that who can help our bigs. It was great to hear players mention him yesterday. That’s a sign of Tyson is doing the right thing.”

Let’s round up a few more Mavs notes…

  • Dallas’ plan to open the season is to have Dwight Powell starting at center alongside power forward Kristaps Porzingis, Kidd said on Wednesday (link via Eddie Sefko at Mavs.com). Kidd added that he wants to experiment a little with different lineups early in the year “to see what combinations work.”
  • The Mavericks said earlier this week they’re hoping to get 100% of their roster vaccinated against COVID-19, but guard Trey Burke said on Wednesday that he’s “not trying to rush into a decision,” per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). Burke said he wants to learn more about possible long-term effects of the vaccine.
  • Kidd had a hand in the Mavericks’ decision to sign Frank Ntilikina, having pushed for the move, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link).

Texas Notes: Exum, Ntlikina, Rockets, Mavericks

In a tweet and Instagram video, Bobby Marks of ESPN breaks down the creative structure the Rockets employed for Dante Exum‘s contract, which was initially reported to be worth a fully non-guaranteed $15MM over three years.

The base salary for the first year is $2.5MM non-guaranteed, with $2.5MM in likely incentives. As Marks states in the video, Exum can earn $1MM for averaging 15.8 minutes per game and another $1.5MM for playing 15.8 MPG and recording a net rating of at least +2.7. Both incentives – which apply to all three seasons of the deal – are considered “likely” because Exum averaged 19.3 MPG with a +3.6 net rating in 2020/21.

The leaguewide salary guarantee date is January 10, so if Exum is still on the Rockets by that date his salary would be guaranteed and would be considered $5MM for trade purposes.

There’s more from Texas:

New York Notes: Randle, Barrett, Millsap, Ntilikina

Knicks All-Star big man Julius Randle recently discussed a variety of subjects with SNY.tv’s Ian Begley, including his career-best 2020/21 campaign, Mitchell Robinson‘s progression and more.

Randle, 26, is coming off an excellent season with New York, averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and six assists per game. He also shot 46% from the field and 41% from deep during those contests.

“My process, honestly, it stays the same,” Randle said. “I try to keep the main focus, the main focus. And that’s, (taking) everything day by day. Whether it’s a workout, whether it’s a film, whatever it is, I just try to give everything that I can when I’m doing what I’m doing. And I kind of let the chips fall where they may.

“I trust the work and the process of everything that I’ve done. And I have faith and belief that that’s going to pay off. I know what I sacrifice, I know what I do to prepare. And regardless of success or failure, I try not to change. I don’t know what the expectation is (for our team). I can’t even tell you what to expect from me. I just know that I’m just gonna keep improving, getting better as a player. That’s just where I stand with it.”

There’s more out of New York tonight:

  • In the same interview with SNY.tv, Randle praised the rapid improvement of Knicks guard RJ Barrett. Like Randle, Barrett also had a productive 2020/21 season, averaging 17.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. “RJ’s going to be a really good player,” Randle said as part of a larger quote. “What is he, 21? I don’t know how old he is. He’s young as hell (laughs). He’s a really good player, and I can relate as far as what he’s done, and what I’ve seen from him so far in this offseason is he just keeps improving. That’s really what it’s about.”
  • Nets big man Paul Millsap is switching jersey numbers from No. 4 to No. 31, according to NetsDaily (Twitter link). Millsap, a 15-year NBA veteran, signed a free-agent deal to join the team last month.
  • Former Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina bid farewell to the team and its fans on Sunday, posting a short video on social media (Instagram link). Ntilikina was the team’s No. 8 pick in the 2017 draft. He recently signed with the Mavericks after spending four seasons in New York.

Western Notes: Bozic, Gordon, Ntilikina, Fox

The Spurs have a new G League coach in Petar Bozic, according to a press release from the Austin Spurs. Bozic spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach for the G League franchise. Before coming to Austin, he served as head coach of Partizan in his home country of Serbia from 2015-16.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The agreed-upon four-year, $92MM extension between the Nuggets and forward Aaron Gordon is a sign that the franchise is going all out win a title in the next three seasons, Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post opines. It’s a declaration that Nikola Jokic and the core group is good enough to capture the championship, regardless of the moves made by the Lakers and other contenders.
  • The two-year contract that guard Frank Ntilikina has signed with the Mavericks includes a team option in the second season, Marc Stein of Substack tweets. It’s still unclear whether the former Knick received a full guarantee for the upcoming season.
  • Kings guard De’Aaron Fox explained why he’s faster than anyone else in the league in an interview with The Reel’s Kenny Beecham, relayed on the team’s website. “The way I move is so much different than everybody else,” Fox said. “Everybody’s not able to make the cuts and just stop and do what I do, especially going at full speed.”

Mavericks Sign Frank Ntilikina

Ex-Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina has signed with the Mavericks, the team’s PR department tweets.

A report surfaced on Tuesday that Dallas was expected to ink the point guard and now it’s official. The Mavs have a full 20-man training camp roster.

It’s believed to be a minimum contract, according to Marc Stein of Substack. The Mavericks already have 14 other players on guaranteed deals, plus Moses Brown on a partially guaranteed contract.

During the 2020/21 season, Ntilikina earned $6.2MM in the fourth year of his rookie deal.

The 6’4″ guard, still just 23, suited up for 33 games with the Knicks last year under head coach Tom Thibodeau. He averaged just 2.7 PPG and 0.9 RPG across 9.8 MPG.

The defensive specialist, who is shooting 36.6% from the field for his career, averaged 6.3 PPG and 3.0 APG in 20.8 MPG during the 2019/20 season.

Dallas already has Jalen Brunson and Trey Burke as rotation options behind Luka Doncic, so Ntilikina doesn’t project to play much even if he’s on the 15-man roster this season.

Mavericks Expected To Sign Frank Ntilikina

It is anticipated that the Mavericks will add defensive-oriented former Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina within the next few days, league sources inform Marc Stein of Substack (Twitter link).

Stein notes that Dallas had been eyeing Ntilikina even in the 2017 NBA draft lottery, but after the Knicks selected him with the eighth pick, the Mavericks pivoted to Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 selection. Smith, who himself was eventually sent to the Knicks in 2019, recently signed a training camp deal with the Trail Blazers.

During the 2020/21 season, Ntilikina earned $6.2MM in the fourth year of his rookie deal. This year, his deal will most likely be either a non-guaranteed deal or a veteran’s minimum. The Mavericks currently have 14 players on guaranteed deals, with one player – Moses Brown – signed to a non-guaranteed contract and both of their two-way contract spots occupied.

The 6’4″ reserve guard, still just 23, suited up for 33 games with the Knicks last year under head coach Tom Thibodeau. He averaged just 2.7 PPG and 0.9 RPG across 9.8 MPG. A talented defensive player, Ntilikina has yet to develop on the other end of the hardwood. He holds career averages of 5.5 PPG, 2.7 APG and 2.0 RPG.

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Simmons, Ntilikina

Veteran journeyman wing Anthony Brown is set to work out for the Celtics this week, per Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando.

Drafted with the No. 34 selection out of Stanford in 2015 by the Lakers, Brown played sparingly for the Lakers and their NBA G League affiliate, then called the Los Angeles D-Fenders (now the South Bay Lakers). In the NBA, he later played for the Pelicans, Magic, and Timberwolves, in addition to suiting up for the NBAGL affiliates for the latter two teams.

Brown played just 41 games across three NBA seasons. He holds averages of 3.9 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 18.6 MPG. Since his last league stint during the 2017/18 NBA season, Brown has played for a variety of international clubs in Serbia, France, and Spain.

The Celtics currently have 14 players inked to guaranteed deals on their 2021/22 roster, and just one of their two-way player slots filled.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons has lost a lot of his trade value following a disappointing postseason performance. In a new mailbag column, Derek Bodner of The Athletic explains that he would be open to Philadelphia team president Daryl Morey targeting draft picks as the primary return in a Simmons deal. By making this kind of move, Morey and his front office team could potentially deal for a star player beyond the caliber of the personnel teams may be making available for Simmons at present.
  • Former Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina, the eighth draft pick in 2017, never lived up to his promise while with New York. Moke Hamilton of Basketball News examines the forces at fault for the current free agent’s underwhelming first four seasons. Then-team president Phil Jackson generally shoulders much of the blame for selecting Ntilikina in the draft ahead of Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, and Malik Monk, all lottery-caliber players drafted after the 6’4″ guard who have already proven themselves to be NBA mainstays. “[Ntilikina] obviously had the physical gifts to be an impact player in the league, but there were two or three other guys that got support because they seemed much safer,” a Knicks source told Hamilton. Hamilton also opines that the team’s lack of stability in its coaches hurt Ntilikina’s development. In four seasons, the point guard played for four different head coaches. Hamilton speculates that, should Ntilikina want to remain in the NBA this season, the 23-year-old should be able to find a team willing to take a flyer on the defensive specialist.
  • In case you missed it, new Lakers center DeAndre Jordan‘s departure from the Nets apparently became inevitable after the team retained Blake Griffin this summer, in addition to signing Paul Millsap and LaMarcus Aldridge. Promising big man Nicolas Claxton also leaped ahead of Jordan in the center rotation during the 2020/21 season.

And-Ones: Ntilikina, Draft Prospects, Nets, Pistons, Primo

Free agent guard Frank Ntilikina is receiving interest from Italian club Virtus Bologna as a potential replacement for Nico Mannion, according to BasketNews.com. Mannion will miss the beginning of the season as he recovers from an intestinal infection.

“We are looking on the market for an element to be included, a point guard who can also remain in the future,” head coach Sergio Scariolo said as part of a larger quote, according to EuroHoops. Because of that, we focus on young people who can give something important, rather than a veteran addition.”

Ntilikina fits the bill for what Virtus Bologna is looking for. The defensive-minded 23-year-old was drafted eighth overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, spending the past four years with New York.

Across those four seasons with the Knicks, Ntilikina has averaged 5.5 points, two rebounds and 0.8 steals in 19.5 minutes per game. He’s struggled with his shooting at the NBA level, owning a 36.6% mark from the field and 32.8% mark from deep in his career.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype takes a look at the top prospects for the 2022 NBA draft, crafting an early aggregate mock draft for the event based on the rankings of various draft experts. Among the projected high-lottery picks is Duke freshman Paolo Banchero, whom Kalbrosky pegs as most likely to be drafted first overall.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider link) examines the recent NetsPistons trade featuring veteran center DeAndre Jordan, grading both sides and giving his opinion on which team won the trade. Brooklyn, which received an A grade from Pelton, dealt Jordan, four second-round picks and $5.78MM in cash in exchange for Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya. The Pistons, who got a C-plus, then reached a buyout agreement with Jordan, allowing him to sign with the Lakers.
  • Spurs rookie Joshua Primo has signed a multi-year shoe and endorsement deal with Nike, according to Jeff Garcia of KENS 5. Primo, 18, was selected No. 12 overall in this year’s draft after spending one season at Alabama.

Eastern Notes: Ntilikina, Kemba, Simmons, Timma, Magic

The Knicks have renounced their free agent rights to former lottery pick Frank Ntilikina, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

The move, which was necessary in order for New York to maximize its cap space, doesn’t preclude the team from re-signing Ntilikina. The Knicks no longer have his Bird rights, but could still re-sign him using cap space or an exception (such as the minimum-salary exception). There has been no indication that’s in the cards, however.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Kemba Walker‘s new two-year, $18MM contract with the Knicks is fully guaranteed with no options, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Keith Smith of Spotrac, providing the year-by-year breakdown, notes (via Twitter) that the two-year value technically comes in at about $17.89MM.
  • Checking in on the Ben Simmons sweepstakes, ESPN’s Zach Lowe confirms that the Spurs, Warriors, and Timberwolves are among the teams that have had some talks with the Sixers and reiterates a point that a few other reporters have made — Philadelphia likely wants to wait to see if Damian Lillard becomes available before moving Simmons. For now, the Trail Blazers star hasn’t asked to be dealt and is off the table, Lowe adds.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic takes a closer look at the bid 29-year-old Janis Timma is making to earn a spot on the Magic‘s roster. The 60th pick in the 2013 draft, Timma has spent his professional career in Europe but is part of Orlando’s Summer League squad. “I just want to show that I’m ready to play here and I belong here,” he said.
  • The Lakeland Magic have hired Joe Barrer as their head coach, according to a press release from the team. Barrer spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach to Stan Heath for Orlando’s G League affiliate. Heath, who led Lakeland to an NBAGL title and earned Coach of the Year honors earlier this year, left for a job at Eastern Michigan.