When they used the No. 8 overall pick to select him in the 2017 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks initially thought that Frank Ntilikina would be their point guard of the future. Unfortunately, in his first two seasons in the NBA, the 21-year-old French point guard was nothing but a huge disappointment for the Knicks. In 43 games he played in the 2018-19 NBA season, Ntilikina showed a dismal performance on both ends of the floor, only averaging 5.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while shooting 33.7 percent from the field and 28.7 percent from beyond the arc.
According to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, Frank Ntilikina is currently facing an uncertain future with the Knicks. As of now, the Knicks remain undecided whether they will pick Ntilikina’s team option for the 2020-21 NBA season or not. If the Knicks let the deadline pass without picking the team option, Ntilikina will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020.
“If the Knicks decline and instead prioritize the cap space, the 21-year-old guard will become an unrestricted free agent next summer and is as good as gone. Typically eighth overall picks have their fourth-year options picked up, but Ntilikina has struggled to crack New York’s rotation and has been undercut by roster moves. He had the misfortune of becoming Phil Jackson’s draft choice less than a week prior to the team president being fired. The new regime of Steve Mills and Scott Perry have shopped Ntilikina — most recently at the draft last month — but never settled on a deal.”
Unless the Knicks succeed to find a trade partner before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline, Frank Ntilikina still has one full season to prove that he still belongs to New York’s long-term plan. However, Ntilikina’s situation with the Knicks is more complicated as he will be needing to battle for playing time against Dennis Smith Jr. and Elfrid Payton.
While Frank Ntilikina’s team option is still up in the air, Bondy believes that it is highly likely that the Knicks will pick up Dennis Smith Jr.’s fourth-year, $5.7 million contract option before the October 31 deadline. Knicks head coach David Fizdale hasn’t officially announced who will be his starters in the 2019-20 NBA season, but most people believe that the role as starting point guard will be given to Smith Jr. Compared to Ntilikina, Smith Jr. is undeniably a much better player and has already shown plenty of superstar potential. In his first 21 games as a Knick, Smith Jr. averaged 14.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.3 steals while shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 28.9 percent from beyond the arc.