Entering his third season as a pro after being drafted No. 8 overall by the New York Knicks in 2017, Frank Ntilikina has yet to live up to expectations. As he has dealt with various injuries in his short NBA career, the 21-year-old Frenchman has often struggled to see quality playing time alongside the likes of Emmanuel Mudiay and Dennis Smith Jr., as noted by New York Daily News. And with Elfrid Payton joining the Knicks this summer via free agency, Ntilikina is now part of a four-way logjam at the point guard position.
That may change, however, if Ntilikina is traded to another team that could give him more playing time. According to a new report from Fansided’s Daily Knicks blog, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press recently tweeted a rumor that hinted that the Detroit Pistons might be interested in the young point guard. No specific trade suggestions were mentioned in Ellis’ post, but Daily Knicks listed three deals that could allow the Pistons to acquire the still-promising Ntilikina, with all the theoretical offers involving at least one selection from future drafts.
Explaining the “worst-case” scenario, Daily Knicks wrote that Detroit could send the 2021 and 2023 draft picks they respectively acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers to New York, in exchange for Ntilikina. This deal would also involve Pistons center Thon Maker and guard Khyri Thomas as “salary fillers.” As the outlet warned, the Knicks may find it hard to get good value for Ntilikina, given his injury history and poor shooting from the field. However, it was pointed out that this trade might work if the team is “desperate” enough to cut its losses and move on from the former 2017 first-round pick.
Frank Ntilikina is the last in the Knicks practice gym, still getting up 3s pic.twitter.com/qCqJFXPZAW
— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) October 9, 2019
Should New York demand more for Ntilikina, Daily Knicks suggested that the Pistons could get “aggressive” and offer a top-20-protected first-rounder from next year’s draft, along with Maker and Thomas. Likewise, the publication’s third trade idea involved the two aforementioned players but instead added a first-round selection from the 2021 draft with top-14 protection. For the latter two offers, this means that the Knicks will only receive the draft pick if the Pistons finish outside the threshold of protection — for example, should they end up with the 21st pick or later in the 2020 draft.
Although Ntilikina won’t provide the same boost to the Pistons’ backcourt as a healthy John Wall would, the team could still give him the fresh start he needs after two years struggling in New York. According to ClutchPoints, Detroit could use an injection of youth and defensive ability at the point guard position, despite the presence of proven players such as Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose.