According to sources, Ntilikina’s skill as a pure point guard is something Mills and Perry have debated. Mills was part of the Phil Jackson braintrust that drafted Ntilikina eighth — ostensibly as a perfect Euro fit for the triangle offense that has been disbanded. According to a source, Mills was adamant Ntilkina being untouchable at Feb. 8’s trade deadline. But Perry, concerned about Ntilikina’s penetrating prowess, pushed to add Mudiay.
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There are other risks, too. For example, how will Mudiay’s presence affect Ntilikina’s development? Perry was adamant with reporters that the Knicks remain high on Ntilikina’s future (the team, according to league sources, rebuffed numerous trade proposals for Ntilikina prior to Thursday’s deadline). They think Mudiay and Ntilikina can share the floor, which they did for 28 minutes in Mudiay’s Knicks debut Sunday against the Indiana Pacers (to the tune of an impressive plus-8.9 net rating, per NBA.com, in a 121-113 loss).
Sources said the Suns asked for a combo of Ntilikina and Hernangomez. Mills doesn’t want to part with either. Mills said Hornacek did the right thing in making Hernangomez “earn’’ his minutes. “This is part of Willy’s development,’’ Mills said. “He’s a guy who’s going to be with us the next three years and we have a lot of time to work with him, and he’s going to be part of who we are.”
Sources say the Knicks found the Suns’ request of a Ntilikina/Hernangomez package as “ridiculous.’’ Ntilikina, 19, was to miss his second straight game Tuesday against the Celtics with a sprained ankle – his rookie experience marred by injuries so far dating to the summer league in July.
Hornacek said Ntilikina’s early fragility has not diminished his excitement over his basketball IQ – essential for a point guard. Of course, Hornacek likely is torn since he coached Bledsoe in Phoenix and admitted he was “great for us’’ there. “We brought him in to develop him,’’ Hornacek said. “When he doesn’t have the injuries, he’s a smart kid. Tell him once, he’s got the plays. He’s got to battle these nagging injuries. We want him back as soon as possible so we can play him.”
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June 25, 2018 | 9:45 am EDT Update
While James hasn’t decided yet whether to pick up his player option, sources close to the situation tell ESPN that he has no intention of hearing elaborate pitch meetings from teams. James might meet or speak with a club official or owner at some point, but the elaborate presentations that have become common in NBA free agency over the years are unnecessary after 15 seasons in the league.
Should James become a free agent, league sources believe he and his agents Rich Paul and Mark Termini have enough understanding of the stakes and NBA landscape to handle the process without much fanfare.
Ben Axelrod: For the first time in a long time, LeBron changed his Twitter avatar. But what does it mean? #LeBronWatch2018
Today marks “Go Hoops Day,” a global celebration of the sport of basketball. Ahead of the festivities, Houston Rockets’ point guard and Jordan Brand athlete Chris Paul teases the Air Jordan CP3.XI and Air Jordan 10 styled in Martin-themed colorways, with the CP3.XI hitting select retailers soon.