NBA rumors: Mavericks announce signing of Frank Ntilikina

More on Frank Ntilikina Free Agency

The Mavericks, as I reported Tuesday night, have emerged as the most likely destination for Ntilikina. He was poised to enter the offseason as a restricted free agent until the Knicks declined to extend him a qualifying offer and ultimately renounced Ntilikina’s rights to clear salary-cap space in connection with a slew of summer deals. Those included the signings of Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker, which helped make Ntilikina expendable.
The Ntilikina signing, provided that the Mavericks close the deal as anticipated, would not be to address that need. They simply relish the opportunity to bring in a recent former lottery pick with an intriguing build and background and see if they can develop him better than the Knicks did. For all the valid concerns about Ntilikina's offensive shortcomings, he's still just 23 and remains a 6-foot-4 defensive specialist with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. He also shot a promising 47.9% from 3-point range albeit on a very limited number of attempts (23 for 48).
Former 8th pick and the New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina could be back playing in Europe. On Saturday, the head coach of Virtus Bologna, Sergio Scariolo, revealed that Nico Mannion will miss the beginning of the season and that the club is looking for a replacement. According to the Gazzetta dello Sport and La Repubblica, Ntilikina is one of the Virtus’ targets. However, reports say that the French point guard is not the first name on the Italian club list.
The market for Ntilikina might be soft enough for the Knicks to match a modest offer. The Post reported Wednesday they haven’t ruled out bringing Ntilikina back if they lose Reggie Bullock. “New York is a special city for me,” Ntilikina told L’Equipe. But don’t be surprised if Popovich’s Spurs take a run at the Frenchman, especially if he stars for “Les Bleus” in Tokyo. The Spurs legend has always been complimentary of Ntilikina.
If the Knicks lose Bullock, they’d be more likely to attempt to match a modest offer to guard Frank Ntilikina, a restricted free agent. According to a league source, the Knicks haven’t ruled out bringing back their 2017 lottery pick selected by Phil Jackson, even if Thibodeau barely played him last season.
Ntilikina and Smith both are in the final years of their rookie contracts and haven’t lit the league on fire yet. They have vastly different styles. Ntilikina is a playmaker and defender, while Smith is a scorer and penetrator. Smith has even changed his jersey number to No. 4 — which he wore at North Carolina State. “We’re three days in, so I’m getting to know both guys,’’ Thibodeau said after the third day of voluntary group practices that is part of the NBA’s in-market OTAs for the “Delete 8.’’
“I like what they’ve done so far. They got to continue to work. There’s often times ups and downs for young players. There’s a learning curve they have to go through. Some experiences will be better than others. “They both have had some good moments in the league. You want to build a consistency. And how do you get there? You have to do it through your work. You have to learn from the experiences. And you have to be disciplined. And so, hopefully we can get there this is a very important offseason for both players.”
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