Frank Ntilikina

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Davis, Trade Deadline, Allen

The Knicks were surprised to discover how much Kristaps Porzingis‘ trade value had dropped when they started shopping him, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post. Some of that was because of the ACL injury that has sidelined him for a year with still no clear date for a return. But some executives also expressed reservations about “where his mind was at and his actual skill set,’’ a source tells Berman.

The Knicks had three criteria in any trade for Porzingis: a good young prospect, which they got in Dennis Smith Jr.; enough expiring contracts to offer two max deals in free agency, which Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan provided; and future first-round picks. Of eight to 10 offers that were available, the Dallas deal was the best one that checked all three boxes.

But New York could have gotten much more if it had traded Porzingis prior to the 2017 draft, when former team president Phil Jackson first raised the idea. Berman reports that the Celtics offered a package of young assets, while the Suns were willing to part with Devin Booker along with a draft pick swap that could have brought Lauri Markkanen to the Knicks.

There’s more this morning from New York City:

  • Signing two elite free agents is just one way the Knicks can take advantage of their cap space, Berman notes in the same story. They could also use that money to absorb Anthony Davis‘ $27MM salary in a potential trade with the Pelicans. New York attempted to convince New Orleans GM Dell Demps to accept Porzingis as part of a package for Davis rather than wait for a trade this summer, a source close to Demps tells Berman, but the Pelicans didn’t believe Porzingis would be willing to re-sign in a smaller market. Berman states that the Knicks will become a serious contender for Davis if they land a top-two pick on lottery night.
  • A lack of interest in their available players led to the Knicks being quiet on deadline day, Berman adds. Virtually no one wanted to take on Enes Kanter‘s $18.6MM contract when a buyout was expected; offers for Frank Ntilikina “underwhelmed;” Damyean Dotson sparked some inquiries, but not enough for New York to act; and few teams made offers for Noah Vonleh.
  • G League callup Kadeem Allen continues to impress, Berman and Howie Kussoy write in a separate story. Allen, who signed a two-way contract with the Knicks last month, played in his seventh straight game last night and produced career highs with 14 points and six assists. “He’s a tough little runt. I love him. I really do. He fits my personality,” coach David Fizdale said. “He’s a grimy kid. He’s really worked his way to where he’s at. He keeps getting better and better.”

Atlantic Notes: Butler, Raptors, Ntilikina

The Sixers may look to put the ball in Jimmy Butler‘s hands more often after his recent return from injury, Brian Seltzer of the team’s official site writes. Previously, head coach Brett Brown had used the All-Star swingman off the ball.

I liked what I saw,” said Brown following the Sixers’ Tuesday night victory, a game in which Butler had a plus-26 rating. “We didn’t really run complicated offense. It was quite simple and spaced, and I thought he did a really good job with that.

The Sixers, of course, have done just fine with Butler in his traditional swingman role – they’re 33-18 after all – but with the playoffs approaching and this roster intent on making a deep run, Brown believes that exploring additional offensive options will serve them well.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Through the first 51 games of the 2018/19 season, the Raptors have used 14 different starting lineups, Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes. After all that tinkering, head coach Nick Nurse is eager to carve out a rotation that he can stick with. “It would be really nice to figure out exactly who is going to be in there. How we’re going to do it. Who is going to play where, minutes, all that kind of stuff,” Nurse said.
  • The Celtics, whom Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald believes have the best to offer in an Anthony Davis trade, should come out ahead regardless of what happens in New Orleans this week. He argues that Boston will either be first in line to trade for him in the summer or be able to watch another team decimate its core to acquire him ahead of the trade deadline. The C’s, it’s worth noting, are unable to deal for Davis this season as the CBA’s Rose Rule forbids it.
  • A groin strain will sideline Frank Ntilikina at a time when the Knicks could have finally gotten a chance to take a good, long look at him, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Incumbent starter Emmanuel Mudiay also happens to be out two to three weeks with his own injury.

Knicks Notes: Burke, Kanter, Ntilikina, Trade Deadline

Trey Burke is back in the Knicks‘ rotation, but it looks like a temporary situation until he either gets traded or Emmanuel Mudiay returns from a strained shoulder, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Burke, who began the season as the starting point guard, poured in 25 points Friday, but doesn’t appear to have a long-term future in New York.

The Knicks have committed to a youth movement and are looking to trade veterans Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Enes Kanter as well. Burke has an expiring $1.795MM contract and likely won’t be around next season no matter what happens at the deadline. A source tells Berman that Burke prefers to be dealt, but he insists he’ll be fine either way.

“As a basketball player, you look at other scenarios,” Burke said. “How I’d fit in other scenarios, in that system, in that situation. But I think the direction of this organization, I want to be part of that. I know that there’s still a lot I have to prove. That’s fine with me.”

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Kanter continues to seethe about being about not being used, even after an injury to starting center Luke Kornet, Berman relays in a separate story. Kanter sat out back-to-back games after Fizdale promised him a return to the rotation, with the coach explaining that he’s trying a versatile, switching style of defense that doesn’t fit Kanter’s game. “I was talking to one of my teammates … and I said I could get 30 and 30 (points and rebounds) tonight,” Kanter said after Friday’s loss to the Nets. “But I guess they didn’t want me to get 30 and 30.”
  • Mudiay’s injury provides Frank Ntilikina with a new opportunity to impress Knicks management, but foul trouble is getting in his way, Berman notes in another story. Ntilikina made his seventh start of the year at point guard Friday, but played just 18 minutes before fouling out. “I have to be smarter to avoid these fouls and know what moment when the refs are going to call it,’’ he said. “Fouls are going to come by being aggressive, but I have to control it.’’
  • The Knicks are in a tear-down phase with almost everyone on the roster available for trades, according to Steve Popper of Newsday. However, an Eastern Conference executive told him that recent additions such as Burke, Mudiay, Noah Vonleh and Mario Hezonja don’t carry much trade value.

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Knicks, Faried, Nets

Although Frank Ntilikina‘s name keeps popping up in trade rumors, Knicks head coach David Fizdale says the club views the second-year guard as a distributor and defender “that can help us win next year and into the future,” per Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Ntilikina’s role has been inconsistent in 2018/19, but Fizdale said he’ll likely have the youngster back up Emmanuel Mudiay at the point for at least the next few weeks.

For his part, Ntilikina has resolved to stop letting “expectations and outside noise” negatively affect his game, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News relays.

“I know me as a player and I know my ceiling is really high, higher than everyone thinks,” Ntilikina said.

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

  • In addition to addressing Ntilikina’s role today, Fizdale also reiterated that the priority up front for the Knicks is to develop centers Luke Kornet and Mitchell Robinson. That means Enes Kanter may not have a spot in the regular rotation, Begley tweets. “I’m going to try my best to share those (center) minutes, but I do have a priority to grow (Kornet and Robinson),” Fizdale said.
  • With Kenneth Faried poised to clear waivers today, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson expressed some regret that he couldn’t find more minutes for Faried during his time in Brooklyn (link via Greg Joyce of The New York Post). Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis were ahead of Faried on the depth chart at center, and Atkinson’s preference for playing small made it difficult to work in the big man at power forward. “He did everything we asked,” Atkinson said. “He was a great guy. He busted his tail. He was in shape. Just didn’t think he had great opportunity here.”
  • A NetsDaily column makes the case that Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and general manager Sean Marks have earned long-term contract extensions, arguing that Brooklyn should lock the duo up sooner rather than later.

Frank Ntilikina Drawing Trade Interest?

With the trade deadline approaching, the Knicks are one team to watch, as they could deal any number of veterans or young players. 2017 first-round draft pick Frank Ntilikina has not developed the way New York had hoped and is one candidate to be traded, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes.

To date, the 20-year-old Frenchman has started in just 23 games through his first two NBA seasons. The Knicks elected to go with veterans at the point guard position last season and Ntilikina has been relegated to bench duty for much of the season.

Per Bondy, the Magic and Suns have expressed interest in Ntilikina. The issue, however, is a split mindset within the front office as Ntilikina was drafted by current team president Steve Mills and has support from the front office. However, general manager Scott Perry took over after Ntilikina was drafted and has less of an attachment to the sophomore. In fact, he recently approached the Hawks about a possible trade but since Atlanta has Trae Young, talks did not go far, Bondy reports.

Ntilikina has averaged just 6.0 PPG and 3.0 APG in 115 career games. While his defense has been a strong suit, Ntilikina has struggled to develop a consistent shot, evidenced by his career 35.7% field goal percentage and 31.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The Knicks are in a position to secure a top-five draft pick this summer and given Ntilikina’s lack of development, the team just may explore moving on from the Frenchman.

Knicks Notes: Kanter, Ntilikina, Knox

Enes Kanter has been promised a place in the Knicks‘ rotation, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. Coach David Fizdale assured Kanter he’ll be in games and suggested the team will use two-center alignments in the future.

“I want to pull off combinations like that because I want to give them all a taste out there,” Fizdale said of playing two centers at the same time.

Fizdale replaced the Turkish big man with Luke Kornet after the team’s Christmas day loss to the Bucks. Mitchell Robinson has been out with an ankle injury that predated the lineup change, leaving Kanter to see minutes off the bench over the last four contests. Robinson isn’t quite ready to see the court, though the rookie won’t take all of Kanter’s minutes once he returns.

Kanter won’t play in the team’s January 17 tilt against the Wizards in London. Kanter, who has been outspoken about the Turkish Government, said he wouldn’t travel with the team because of safety concerns. “I could get killed pretty easy,” he previously said, alluding to his feud with Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the possibility of a Turkish presence in London.

The Knicks then attempted to clarify the center’s response by announcing that Kanter would not make the trip because of visa issues. However, Kanter refuted the claim today, posting a photo of his travel document on his Twitter feed.

New York could trade Kanter, in addition to some of their other veterans, before the trade deadline, as the franchise is fully committed to a youth movement.  As we wait to see what moves the 10-29 Knicks make, let’s take a look at some more notes from the Big Apple:

  • The Knicks‘ team doctors have changed their diagnosis on Frank Ntilikina‘s ankle from a strained left tendon to sprained ligaments, which is an upgrade in terms of predicted recovery time, Berman passes along in the same piece. The team doesn’t expect Ntilikina to miss as much time as Robinson has. “With the Mitchell thing, we’re being overly cautious because he’s had multiple [sprains],” Fizdale said. “It’s different with Frank, and these kids heal differently. I don’t see Frank being out too long.”
  • Kevin Knox is only 19 years old and the 6’9″ rookie says he isn’t done growing yet, Berman passes along in a separate piece. “Doctors said I have a half-inch or an inch left in the tank,” Knox said. “You never know — hopefully, I have an inch [left]. Maybe 6-10, 6-10½. If not, I’m perfectly fine with where I’m at.”
  • While tanking may be the best path for the Knicks, Tim Hardaway Jr. is not a fan of the strategy and the losses are wearing him down, Berman adds in a separate piece. “It’s obviously a tough pill to swallow. You definitely want to try to win as many games as possible.”

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Burke, Jackson, Trier

Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina suffered a strained tendon in his left ankle Friday night that could lead to a prolonged absence, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. X-rays were negative, but Ntilikina was in a walking boot after the game. Berman adds that an MRI is being considered to determine the full extent of the damage.

The injury occurred in the first quarter on a steal by the Lakers’ Josh Hart. Ntilikina explained that his foot “rolled” as he was stepping backward and trying to protect the ball.

“I’m trying to be positive and get that ankle to be OK real quick,” he said. “We’re going to see day-to-day. Thankfully the X-rays of the bones were OK. Now we’re going to see and do the best to get back on the court real quick.’’

While Ntilikina is sidelined, Trey Burke is expected to return to the rotation as the backup point guard. He had barely played since returning from a sprained knee eight games ago, but scored 16 points in 19 minutes against L.A.

There’s more today from New York:

  • The crowd at the Staples Center last night included Knicks owner James Dolan, who doesn’t usually accompany his team on the road, Berman notes in a separate story. Dolan was seated next to entertainment executive Irving Azoff, who encouraged him to hire Phil Jackson as team president five years ago. “He came in [the locker room] and gave everybody ‘dab’ like the coaching staff would do after a game,’’ Tim Hardaway Jr. said of Dolan. “He brought it in with us. He was just happy how we competed on both ends of the floor and said, ‘get the next one.’”
  • Jackson has stayed out of the spotlight since being dismissed in 2017, and former Knicks associate coach Kurt Rambis explained why in a radio interview, Berman relays in another piece. Rambis said Jackson, who is serving as a special adviser for the Lakers, is having trouble moving after knee and hip replacements. Jackson remains on the Knicks’ payroll through March, and sources tell Berman he plans to speak out about his experience in New York once his connections are completely severed.
  • The Knicks hold a team option on Allonzo Trier for next season and must exercise it by June 20, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Trier started the season on a two-way contract before agreeing to a two-year deal last month. He will make $3.55MM next season if the Knicks keep him on the roster.

Atlantic Notes: Ntilikina, Horford, Sixers, Irving

Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina is set to return to the rotation after sitting out of the team’s game on Christmas, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. The Knicks will play the Bucks on Thursday night, the second matchup between the teams this week.

“He’s a pro, man,” coach David Fizdale said of Ntilikina. “He says, ‘Coach, don’t you worry about that.’ That’s how he talks. He says, ‘I don’t want you to worry about that. I know you are going to get me back in there at some point and I won’t let you down.’

“For a 20-year-old kid to think that way and talk that way even though I know it hurt him, and I know it was hard on him, and I didn’t want to do that to him — he just handled it great. I want him to have a shot back at these guys.”

Ntilikina’s sudden benching likely harmed his confidence, but the 20-year-old has stayed ready for a second opportunity. His mother traveled to New York for the Christmas Day game, according to Berman, making the sudden DNP sting even more for the second-year player.

Ntilikina has averaged 6.3 points per contest in 31 games this season, shooting 34% from the field and 29% from 3-point range. The Knicks drafted him with the No. 8 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Al Horford‘s return brought a calming effect to the Celtics this week, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports writes. Horford returned to Boston’s lineup on Christmas against the 76ers, producing nine rebounds, six assists and solid all-around leadership. “[Horford] just brings a calming presence,” said teammate Kyrie Irving. “[There’s] nothing like having a plus-12[-year] vet out there that knows how to play basketball. He makes the game a lot easier with screening, rebounding, defense, all the intangibles that just demand that effort. And he’s just always locked in, in the game plan.”
  • Despite Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid not being a flawless fit together, the duo still has several years to work out the kinks and improve as members of the Sixers, David Murphy of Philly.com opines. Philadelphia currently owns a 22-13 record behind the production of Simmons, Embiid and Jimmy Butler, good for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
  • Despite the Celtics‘ recent success, All-Star Kyrie Irving will need more help if the team hopes to make a late postseason run, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. The Celtics were expected to be at the top of their conference entering 2019, but the team holds just a 20-13 record and the fifth seed 33 games into the season. Boston sports a talented mix of players around Irving that includes Horford, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward.

Frank Ntilikina Unhappy About Christmas Benching

Whatever plans Frank Ntilikina had for Christmas Day, they didn’t include spending 48 minutes on the Knicks‘ bench. Ntilikina found himself back out of coach David Fizdale’s revolving lineup and he doesn’t sound happy about the move, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“Did I know that I would not play today?” Ntilikina said after the game. “Coach makes his decision during the game. So you don’t know. You know that, right?”

Ntilikina hasn’t played well lately, posting a 3.6/2.2/2.4 line over his past five games while shooting 21.4% from the field and 18.2% from 3-point range. Still, the timing of Fizdale’s decision was odd considering team president Steve Mills just spoke last Friday about the need to raise Ntilikina’s confidence on offense.

Yesterday’s benching was particularly tough for Ntilikina because his mother flew in from France to watch him play on Christmas. The Knicks’ other options at point guard weren’t playing well, Berman notes, as Emmanuel Mudiay committed five turnovers and Trey Burke hit just one of seven shots.

This is the second absence from the lineup for Ntilikina, who had three DNPs earlier this month, and he seems to be growing frustrated about Fizdale’s approach to allocating minutes.

“I don’t know how long it will be [this time],” Ntilikina said. “I can’t predict each and every game in the future. One thing I can do is get ready for each and every one — which I will do. Practice hard, get ready physically and mentally for the next game.”

Fizdale explained to reporters that Ntilikina had been “struggling” and he wanted to give more time to Burke, who has been working his way back from a knee strain.

While none of the Knicks’ point guards has been outstanding, Ntilikina is the only one under contract for next season. Burke’s $1.795MM deal for this season won’t be fully guaranteed until next month, while Mudiay is headed for restricted free agency.

Atlantic Notes: Kurucs, Celtics, Bolden, Ntilikina

As the Nets have played well in recent weeks, one of the bright spots has been the play and development of Rodions Kurucs, the 20-year-old rookie selected in the second round of the 2018 draft. As Greg Joyce writes for The New York Post, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson believes that there is more to come for Kurucs.

Kurucs is coming off a career-high 24 points against the Pacers, a game in which he often spent his time on the floor guarding Victor Oladipo. As Joyce points out, Atkinson thinks that his recent play isn’t a flash in the pan situation, as he has been impressed with the rookie’s awareness on the floor.

Kurucs received his opportunity to start when Allen Crabbe went down with an injury, but with the way Kurucs is playing, it will be tough for the Nets, winners of eight of the past nine games, to take Kurucs out of the starting lineup.

There’s more from the Atlantic division: