In the 2017 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks used the No. 8 overall pick to select Frank Ntilikina with the hope that he could be their point guard of the future. Unfortunately, from the time he set foot in the NBA, Ntilikina has failed to live up to expectations and continued to show inconsistencies on both ends of the floor. There are several things that contribute to Ntilikina’s struggle. Aside from his age, Ntilikina only averaged 21.7 per games in the past two years and has dealt with numerous injuries.
If they want to see his full potential, the Knicks will be needing to be more patient and should consider giving Frank Ntilikina a more significant role. However, the Knicks may no longer have the time to wait for Ntilikina’s full development, especially with their goal to contend for the NBA championship title in the 2019-20 NBA season. With the emergence of Dennis Smith Jr. and Emmanuel Mudiay in New York, Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News believes that Ntilikina’s future with the Knicks will be “up in the air” in the 2019 NBA offseason.
“During Ntilikina’s extended absence, the Knicks acquired another young point guard – Dennis Smith Jr. – and continued to push Emmanuel Mudiay to the forefront. Ntilikina’s future with the team is up in the air entering the fateful 2019 offseason, meaning these final few weeks could carry long-term significance.”
Adding injury to insult, Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina were hurt in the Knicks' loss against the Clippers. https://t.co/S9UBk7DKnk— USA TODAY NBA (@usatodaynba) March 24, 2019
If he fails to show a massive improvement with his performance in the remaining games of the regular season, it is highly likely that Frank Ntilikina has already played his final season with the Knicks. When the Knicks engaged in a blockbuster deal with the Dallas Mavericks before the February NBA trade deadline, they didn’t only acquire a young and promising point guard in Dennis Smith Jr., but they also opened up a huge chunk of their salary cap space to chase at two incoming free agent superstars in the 2019 NBA offseason.
If they succeed to acquire their top free-agent targets like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, there is a strong possibility that the Knicks will consider making Frank Ntilikina and some of their young players available on the trading block next summer. Before they traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks, the Knicks tried to use him as the main trade chip to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Knicks may no longer have Kristaps Porzingis, but they still have an interesting collection of trade assets that could help the Pelicans speed up the rebuilding process. If they land the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Knicks will have a strong chance of acquiring Davis in the 2019 NBA offseason.