With New York Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina recently demoted to second-string duties by interim head coach Mike Miller, a new report suggests that there are multiple teams that might make a move for him before the February trade deadline, including the Dallas Mavericks.
On Tuesday, longtime NBA insider Sean Deveney published a report on Heavy, pointing out that the Mavericks are the “first team that comes up as a trade possibility” for the 21-year-old, especially considering what happened in the 2017 draft. Back then, the Knicks used the No. 8 selection on Ntilikina, while the Mavericks chose another point guard, Dennis Smith Jr., with the very next pick. Ironically, Smith was traded to New York midway through the 2018-19 campaign and has also figured in multiple trade rumors this season, given how he has been relegated to third-string duties behind Elfrid Payton and Ntilikina.
“The Mavs do need point guard depth and would not need to offer much to bring in Ntilikina, since they could absorb his $4.9 million salary into the trade exception the team still has from last year’s Harrison Barnes trade,” Deveney explained.
In addition, Deveney noted that Dallas might not be willing to include the 2020 second-round draft pick also acquired from the Golden State Warriors via the Barnes trade. He added, however, that the Mavericks could decide instead to part ways with their other second-round selection from this year’s draft, which they acquired from the Utah Jazz.
Markelle Fultz steps back on the jumper… and Frank Ntilikina tosses it up to beat the buzzer!
— LIVE on ESPN/ABC: LAC@LAL (@NBA) October 30, 2019
While it was stressed that it’s unclear whether the Mavericks are still interested in trading for Ntilikina, there are a few other organizations that could potentially acquire the French youngster ahead of the trade deadline. According to Deveney, the Orlando Magic have two second-round picks in the upcoming 2020 draft that they could send to New York, though the team currently has three point guards on their roster. Likewise, the Sacramento Kings were suggested as a third potential suitor, due to their seven future second-rounders and their need for a backup point guard to play behind De’Aaron Fox.
Talking about Ntilikina’s future in the NBA as a third-year player who has not lived up to expectations, Deveney wrote that his offense hasn’t quite caught up with his defensive play. But even with the recent strides he made on the offensive end, the Heavy NBA insider opined that the Knicks may have to take what they can get and “cash in while he has some value,” as Ntilikina no longer appears to be part of the team’s rebuilding plans.