Frank Ntilikina

Eastern Notes: Knicks, Ntilikina, Pistons

Kristaps Porzingis‘ injury forced the Knicks to change their organizational vision and take a long-term approach to roster building, Nick Zappulla of RealGM writes.

New York enters the season with few short-term expectations, something that will make developing the team’s prospects the priority. Instead of signing veterans this offseason with an eye on wins, the team was able to take low-risk chances on players with high-potential to be long-term fits, such as Noah Vonleh and Mario Hezonja.

With Porzingis, Kevin Knox, and a team of young prospects, the Knicks are finally in a position to build toward the future.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Frank Ntilikina has the chance to steal the show in for the Knicks this season, Zappulla adds in the same piece. Zappulla compares the point guard to Dante Exum minus the injury concerns.
  • The Pistons were limited in what they could do this offseason due to cap constraints and they’ll need to find success with continuity on the court and change in leadership off of it, Ben Dowsett of Basketball Insiders writes. Dowsett has Detroit finishing third in the Central Division.
  • Matt John of Basketball Insiders (same piece) expects the Pistons to be on the lookout for a deal should a starter-level player become available on the trade market. John believes any player outside of the expensive Blake GriffinAndre DrummondReggie Jackson trio is movable in the right deal.

Eastern Notes: Leonard, Galloway, Johnson, Ntilikina

Hiring Kawhi Leonard‘s close friend Jeremy Castleberry away from the Spurs as a player development coach was a wise move by the Raptors, in the view of Danny Green, as Steven Loung of SportsNet Canada details.

Green was traded along with Leonard to Toronto and the Raptors are hoping to convince Leonard to re-sign with them next summer. The addition of Castleberry should help the cause, according to Green

“It’s good to have (Castleberry) on board. Hopefully, it helps Kawhi feel more comfortable at home and keeps him in the city that they want to keep him here,” Green said. “Obviously (the Raptors) traded for him for a reason. They think they can sell him. … It’s an amazing city in Toronto. So the city sells itself. … And now you have your best friend with you. What else could you ask for?”

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Langston Galloway was a major disappointment in his first season with the Pistons and he’ll have a tough time making the rotation, Ansar Khan of MLive writes. Galloway didn’t fare well when he played the point on occasion and posted career lows in several categories while mostly seeing action at shooting guard, Khan continues. Galloway, who has two years left on his $21MM contract, has plenty of competition at the guard spots in the upcoming season, Khan adds.
  • Pistons small forward Stanley Johnson could blossom in coach Dwane Casey’s first season, Khan writes in another post. Casey has praised Johnson’s work ethic and feels that Johnson has untapped scoring potential, Khan continues. Johnson became more aggressive going to the basket last season but needs to improve his outside shooting, Khan adds.
  • Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (France) and Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen (Finland) will not play for their national teams in FIBA World Cup qualifiers next month, according to a Sportando report. Both players will focus on preparing for their second season in the NBA, the report adds.

Leonard Trade Rumors: Lakers, Kings, Knicks, Celtics, Odds

It would be a tight squeeze financially but the Lakers could conceivably acquire Kawhi Leonard in a trade and sign both LeBron James and Paul George as free agents, according to Kevin Pelton of Leonard’s desire to be traded from the Spurs, with Los Angeles being his preferred destination, was made public on Friday. The trade would have to be completed before any free agent signings and the Spurs would have to be willing to take back Luol Deng‘s bad contract, Pelton continues. A package of either Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma might be enough to entice the Spurs to do that, though a third team might be needed in order to match up salaries. The Lakers could then sign James and George, and fill out the roster using their room mid-level exception along with veterans agreeing to minimum contracts, Pelton adds.

In other notes involving Leonard trade chatter:

  • The Kings could be a darkhorse to land Leonard, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets. Sacramento is desperately seeking a star-level talent and is willing to part with the No. 2 pick in the draft to get one, according to Mannix.
  • The Knicks would have to part with Kristaps Porzingis to have any chance of securing Leonard, Marc Berman of the New York Post speculates. The only other major assets the Knicks possess are their lottery pick (No. 9 overall), their potential lottery pick in 2020 and last year’s lottery selection, point guard Frank Ntilikina. But the Knicks could only trade one of those picks under CBA rules and they’d also have to give up another big salary to make the trade work, Berman notes.
  • The Celtics are expected to express interest in Leonard in their quest to land superstars, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reports. However, a league source told Himmelsbach that the timing of the leak might actually be a negotiating ploy to secure a five-year, $219MM maximum extension from the Spurs.
  • The Lakers are the heavy favorites to land Leonard, according to the Bovada Sportsbook as relayed by Adam Zagoria of the New York Times (Twitter link). The Lakers are less than even money at 5-7 to have Leonard in their opening-night lineup. The Celtics are rated at 15-4, a little less than 4-1, to acquire Leonard. The Sixers and Spurs are next as 5-1 proposition, followed by the Cavaliers and Clippers at 10-1.

New York Notes: Young, Ntilikina, LeVert, Lin

The Knicks are scheduled to host Oklahoma point guard Trae Young for a private workout at the organization’s practice facility on Tuesday, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. We relayed earlier this week that the Knicks were one of a “handful” of teams Young will work out for privately.

Young has long been linked to the Knicks, but the chances of him being available when the team picks ninth are unlikely. Nonetheless, Berman wrote a feature in which Young’s style of play and attitude are highlighted as a match for the bright lights of New York City.

“After two years,’’ said Sooners assistant Chris Crutchfield, “he’ll be an NBA All-Star. One, he’s quick with the ball. Two, he can really, really shoot it. And three, he can pass it. Based on the way the NBA is designed with defensive rules, it’s ideal for a guy like Trae to have success. If you don’t guard him at 35 feet he may shoot it. If you do, he’s going to go by you.’’

Berman compares the Knicks’ interest in Young to the team’s 2009 interest in Stephen Curry, who was selected by the Warriors one spot before New York picked. There is concern that comparisons to Curry may impact Young’s career early, but he appears to be welcoming the pressure.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • Frank Ntilikina returned to the United States from his native France this week with a new look inspired by his desire to improve as part of the Knicks future, Berman writes“I’ve added some weight and muscle,” Ntilikina said. “I spent a lot of time working on my body in France. I’m getting better and more comfortable with my skills and body. I had the chance to maximize my time and work on my body, which I didn’t have time to do during the season.”
  • Nets forward Caris LeVert spent time in India this week working with young kids as part of the Basketball Without Borders program, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. LeVert said he enjoyed going to Taiwan last year for a camp hosted by teammate Jeremy Lin and that he wants to see more of the world.
  • Speaking of Lin, his season ended on opening night when he ruptured the patella tendon in his knee. Lin reflected on how faith helped him overcome the grief of an injury ending his season, Net Income of NetsDaily writes. “The injury was like the last straw for me. This was the biggest setback in my life. It took place at the moment of my life’s most anticipated and highest peak,” Lin said. “I’m 30 years old. As a basketball player, I’m 30 years old already entering the end of the line.”

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Fizdale, T. Young, Bridges

Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina has returned from France and will meet new coach David Fizdale for the first time today, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Fizdale said he wants to establish “great relationships with his players,” which is an area where management thought former coach Jeff Hornacek was lacking.

Ntilikina will participate in an informal workout today along with fellow point guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke, shooting guard Damyean Dotson and forward Troy Williams, who spent time in Memphis with Fizdale.

Ntilikina plans to remain in the United States for the rest of the offseason and will play with the Knicks’ summer league team in Las Vegas, Berman adds. He was held out of the league last year because of soreness in his left knee that occurred in the French League playoffs. Ntilikina has been working with a Knicks trainer while in France and has added muscle and weight.

There’s more this morning out of New York:

  • The Knicks are well stocked at point guard, but may be interested in Oklahoma’s Trae Young if he falls to No. 9, Berman adds in the same story.
  • Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is lobbying for the Knicks to draft Miles Bridges, Berman reports in a separate piece. GM Scott Perry talked to Izzo about Bridges during the season and plans to meet with him again next week. Also, assistant GM Gerald Madkins recently went to Lansing to discuss Bridges with the Michigan State coaching staff. Bridges was considered to be a lottery pick as a freshman last year, but decided to return to the Spartans for his sophomore season. “I see a guy who can play a lot of positions and defend them with his strength and rebounding,’’ Izzo said. “What I’d like to see him get better at? Continually improving getting shots off the dribble. He’s a phenomenal 85 percent free-throw shooter. I’d like to see him get to the line more. He’ll get better because he’s a gym rat — in there at 6:30 a.m., in there at night. How many guys love the game, how many guys like the game.”
  • Teams were limited to 30 minutes with each prospect at the draft combine, which Perry considers to be opening interviews, writes Chris Iseman of North The Knicks will get more in depth when individual workouts begin. “With some of them, this may be the first round of interviews because I’m sure a number of the guys that we would interview here we’ll also bring to New York for a longer visit,” Perry said, “trying to get a better feel for who these guys are when we have them for 48 hours versus a 30-minute interview that we’re going to have at the combine.”

Knicks Looking For “Unquestioned Upgrade” If Drafting PG At No. 9

The Knicks didn’t move up in the lottery and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has the team selecting Collin Sexton in his post-lottery mock draft. However, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post that they have yet to decide whether the Alabama product is an “unquestioned upgrade” over the point guards already on the roster.

The team selected Frank Ntilikina with the No.8 overall pick last summer. “Frank’s a better defender,’’ one NBA personnel director said. “And Collin can struggle with his shot.’’

New York’s preference is to take a small forward, though Berman notes that’s only the case if prospects are seen as equal. The available prospect with the highest upside may be the pick regardless of the player’s position.

The Knicks also have Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke in-house. Neither appears to be the point guard of the future in New York, though both should be near-locks to make the roster next season.

The option of passing on Sexton might not even present itself, as Alabama coach Avery Johnson believes Sexton will rise in the draft after working out for teams. “Nine range?’’ the former NBA player and coach said. “If they saw what I have seen, I’m not trying to promote my player [because] my reputation is on the line also. But if they’ve seen what I’ve seen, I don’t see how he gets past five.’’

Atlantic Notes: Ntilikina, Redick, Sixers Offseason

With David Fizdale as the new head coach, one important storyline to watch will be how he helps teenage point guard Frank Ntilikina develop, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Ntilikina was the Knicks’ first-round pick (eighth overall) under the previous administration last year and his development will be key to New York’s future.

The Frenchman averaged 5.9 PPG and 3.2 APG in 78 games this season while showing potential on the defensive end. Fizdale made a series of media appearances, praising Ntilikina’s potential and being eager to coach him. In particular, Fizdale touted Ntilikina’s ability on both sides of the ball during an interview with ESPN.

“I see a possibility with a two-way player,’’ Fizdale said. “The kid takes real pride in defending. He’s got big-time wingspan. He’s a combo guard. We get him where he’s knocking down that three-ball every single time with his feet set, his shot always looks pretty good. I think he’s too unselfish. But he has the competitive streak I really like.”

Check out more Atlantic Division notes below:

  • J.J. Redick will be an interesting free agent to watch this summer after he was an important veteran presence for a young Sixers team. Frank Urbina of HoopsHype looks at four potential destinations for Redick this summer, including the Lakers, Cavaliers, Spurs, and reunion with the Sixers.
  • Dennis Chambers of Basketball Insiders writes that after a strong season that included a first-round postseason win and a strong effort versus the Celtics, the Sixers will need to be persistent. Chambers writes that Philadelphia’s young stars will need to develop their skill sets and that the organization will need to recruit outside talent.
  • In an earlier post of Atlantic Division notes, we relayed the Celtics’ strong play in the postseason, Fizdale’s tough upbringing in California, and fired Raptors coach Dwane Casey’s emotional farewell to Toronto.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Woodson, Ntilikina, M. Bridges

Knicks coach David Fizdale is confident he can make New York a popular free agent destination again, but he knows it will take time and success, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Fizdale isn’t addressing questions about the top free agent on the market, LeBron James, whom he worked with for four years as an assistant coach in Miami, but he knows the city can be a strong selling point if the Knicks get competitive again.

“[Free agents] are not just going to go there to live in New York City,’’ Fizdale said. “You’re going there to be in a culture. When you start showing that through action, players are going to come. New York is a special place.”

During a series of media appearances, Fizdale promised that once that culture is instilled, the team will be able to attract “the right players here to take us to another level.’’

There’s more tonight out of New York:

  • During an appearance on MSG Network, Fizdale singled out Clippers assistant Mike Woodson as one of his most important influences, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. Woodson, who hired Fizdale as an assistant in Atlanta, has expressed interest in joining Fizdale’s staff if Doc Rivers isn’t retained in L.A. “Mike Woodson was really the person who instilled a work ethic,” Fizdale said. “Understanding that no matter what’s going on around you, you have to bring a certain work ethic and really check your ego at the door because when you’re going through 13-win seasons, 26-win seasons [in Atlanta] and getting to places like that, there’s no room for ego.”
  • Fizdale is excited to begin working with last year’s first-rounder, Frank Ntilikina, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Ntilikina saw time at both backcourt positions last season, which isn’t an issue for Fizdale, who envisions “positionless basketball” with Ntilikina possibly sharing the court with fellow point guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke.
  • Fizdale made a couple of eye-opening comparisons during an appearance today on WFAN, Bondy tweets. He said he coached players like Mudiay before, citing Dwyane Wade and Tyreke Evans as examples, then compared Lance Thomas with Draymond Green.
  • Villanova’s Mikal Bridges would enjoy having Madison Square Garden as his home court if he gets drafted by the Knicks. In an interview tweeted by DraftExpressContent, Bridges says he enjoyed the surroundings during the Wildcats’ frequent trips to the Garden. “Great atmosphere, great venue, lot of great things happening here,” he said.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Hernandez, Mudiay, Kanter

Building a productive relationship with Kristaps Porzingis and devising a plan for his three point guards are among the questions facing new Knicks coach David Fizdale, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Fizdale plans to travel to Latvia in the near future to meet with his franchise player, who is rehabbing his knee injury there.

Juggling the minutes of Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina and Trey Burke will be a challenge for the ex-Grizzlies coach, Berman continues. Learning from his mistakes in Memphis, particularly in the way he dealt with veteran center Marc Gasol, is another thing Fizdale must do in order to be a success in New York, Berman adds.

In other Knicks-related news:

  • Former Magic assistant coach Jay Hernandez is a name to watch as Fizdale selects his staff, Michael Scotto of The Athletic tweets. He has a solid reputation in player development and player relationships after working with several NBA players as a trainer, Scotto adds.
  • Mudiay said the coaching change has energized the team, as he told Berman in a separate story. “Nobody has played with him yet over here except Troy Williams. But I’m not the only one excited. Everyone else is, too,’’ he said. Mudiay believes Fizdale, a point guard during his playing days, can help with his development.
  • Center Enes Kanter, who exchanged barbs with LeBron James this season, playfully challenged the Cavaliers superstar to sign with the Knicks during a Twitter Q&A session, Ian Begley of ESPN relays. “You really want to be king of New York? Come and prove it. I’ll see you July 1st, brother,” Kanter said in the Twitter video. James is expected to opt out of his contract this summer but the Knicks are an extreme long shot, considering their salary-cap issues and their rebuilding status.

Knicks Notes: Burke, Jack, Ntilikina, Fizdale

Trey Burke has worked on shedding the “draft bust” label this season in the Knicks organization, starting with a strong G League season and now as the team’s primary point guard. In 34 games (7 starts), Burke has averaged 12.6 PPG and 4.5 APG while seeing the court for 20.9 minutes per contest.

Burke took part in a Q&A with Steve Serby of the New York Post to discuss his career rebirth, on-court mentality, and impressions of New York. Burke discussed his career at length, revealing that he lost confidence after the Jazz took Dante Exum in the 2014 NBA Draft, was frustrated by his scarce playing time in Washington, and took a two-week break from basketball that helped him rediscover his love for the game.

“No, no, I never thought about that,” Burke said of considering retirement. “I did start losing love for the game, which was scary, because it never really happened. That’s when I gave myself some time away from the game as well, gave myself about two weeks away from it, and I worked harder than I ever worked in my life last summer. And it feels good to be reaping some of the results right now. That’s how I know the best is yet to come, ’cause I plan on having another summer as great as last one.”

Check out more Knicks notes below:

  • Jarrett Jack, the Knicks‘ veteran point guard who has been on the bench since the All-Star break, has found his way back into some games recently. Fred Kerber of the New York Post relays Jack’s appreciation for losing streaks and how they shape a team. “But can you do that when stuff isn’t going your way and what shows where your true character lies?” Jack said. “People might think I’m crazy, but I love the losing streaks and the downside of the season because it really shows who you are, collectively, individually.”
  • The Knicks have stressed the importance of maintaining and building strength to rookie Frank Ntilikina. Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that head coach Jeff Hornacek is pleased with Ntilikina’s physical progression and how it is positively helping his performance.
  • As we relayed earlier, Heat guard Dwyane Wade advocated for David Fizdale as a potential head coaching candidate for the Knicks if the organization parts ways with Hornacek.