With close to two years having passed since the New York Knicks picked him eighth overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, Frank Ntilikina has not lived up to the expectations most would have for such a high draft selection. However, he could be close to getting a fresh start with a new team, as new reports claim that the Knicks are hoping to trade him in the offseason for another selection in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft.
While the New York Post focused mainly on the rumors that the Knicks might include their No. 3 overall draft pick this year in a package for New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, the outlet’s Marc Berman also mentioned Ntilikina in his report on Friday, noting that New York plans to “look into offers” for the French point guard, with the hopes of getting a late first-round or early second-round selection in this year’s draft. Currently, the Knicks have the No. 3 and No. 55 picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, and as Berman noted, the team could use an additional selection to help address their need at power forward.
Separately, Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News wrote on Monday that Ntilikina is planning to change representation with the “possibility of a trade looming.” Bondy added that the incoming third-year point guard specifically “desires a relocation,” but also cautioned that Ntilikina’s “underwhelming” performance in his first two seasons has caused his value to decline. Furthermore, Ntilikina can also become a free agent in the summer of 2020 if the Knicks choose not to pick up his $6.2 million contract option by October 31.
Ntilikina, who turns 21 in July, saw his numbers slightly decline in the 2018-19 season, as he averaged just 5.7 points and two assists while shooting 33.7 percent from the field and 28.7 percent from three-point range in 43 games, per Basketball-Reference. Aside from the nagging injuries that plagued him for most of the past season, Ntilikina also fell out of the rotation after the Knicks acquired Dennis Smith Jr. in the midseason deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks.
Per Sporting News, several teams, including the Brooklyn Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, and Phoenix Suns, showed “some level of interest” in Ntilikina before the February trade deadline.
As further noted on Bondy’s report for New York Daily News, Ntilikina’s strengths on the defensive end could also make him worth keeping around in the coming 2019-20 season if the Knicks end up signing “offensive-minded superstars” in free agency. However, his poor shooting percentages last season were also mentioned as a factor that could keep him on the deep end of the bench at point guard behind the likes of Smith and Emmanuel Mudiay.