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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.
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has expressed confidence in Ntilikina in public and, per SNY’s Ian Begley, Thibodeau has in the past said privately that he believes Ntilikina has the potential to develop into a player who can help the Knicks in the future.
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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August 2, 2021 | 7:49 am EDT Update
There is a strong possibility that Howard returns for a third go-around with the Lakers. Howard won a title with the Lakers in 2020, but he bolted to the 76ers last season. Now, there appears to be interest on both sides to have Howard back for his physical and defensive play. Howard, 35, averaged 7.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in 17.3 minutes last season in Philadelphia, his 17th in the NBA.
Rob Schaefer: Zach LaVine on what he’s conveyed to Bulls about a potential extension. If Bulls decide to take route to cap space, pursuing upgrades through free agency or renegotiating + extending LaVine’s current contract are two options on table.
Barry Jackson: ESPN reports tonight that New Orleans and Dallas – two Lowry suitors – have begun to look elsewhere for point guards. The Dragic/Achiuwa package should get this done for Lowry barring any late issues; Achiuwa hasn’t yet been informed because talks can’t begin until 6 p.m. Monday.
Donatas Urbonas: Ignas Brazdeikis will play for the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League, per sources. Brazdeikis averaged 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2 assists in 8 NBA games with Orlando last season.
Rob Schaefer: Zach LaVine on keeping up with Bulls’ free agency from Tokyo: “I should have a good idea what’s going on. I take that very serious, keep up to date with what’s going on back home, but obviously still get my rest cause we got a game tomorrow. One way or another I’ll find out.”
August 2, 2021 | 1:19 am EDT Update
“It looks like [Kawhi] is expected to re-sign with the Clippers, but sources informed me that he will listen to other teams.” @ChrisBHaynes on Kawhi Leonard’s free agency