Storyline: Frank Ntilikina Trade?

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It’s logical to think that there are no players on the Knicks roster who are off limits when it comes to potential trades, but 2017 first-round pick Frank Ntilikina is one player who members of the organization are open to listening to offers on, sources confirm. Ntilikina has been a part of trade rumors for several months. It is unclear what the Knicks would be looking for in return for a Ntilikina deal, but the New York Post, which first reported the Knicks’ willingness to move Ntilikina, says the club is looking for a late first or second-round pick.

When pressed further, Fizdale cited Ntilikina’s versatility as his long-term fit in New York. We’ll see how long this tenuous partnership lasts. Ntilikina spent most of his sophomore season either injured, ineffective or buried on the bench. During what will probably devolve into the worst season in franchise history, Ntilikina racked up four DNP-CD’s in December — including on Christmas after his mother flew in for the game. The Knicks are expected to shop Ntilikina this summer and it’s hardly a ringing endorsement when the owner of the team — James Dolan — let’s out an audible sigh when asked by ESPN Radio why he didn’t fire Phil Jackson before making the draft pick.

The Knicks could trade Ntilikina in the offseason and there was a market ahead of the February deadline. They didn’t bite on previous offers, but that doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. A source told the Daily News that GM Scott Perry, who was hired after the Knicks drafted Ntilikina, approached a member of the Hawks front office to test his appetite for a deal before the February trade deadline. The Hawks, however, have Trae Young and weren’t interested.

Ntilikina has seen his production wither over the last few weeks, with his playing time drawn down too. He’s been moved from the wing to the point and back, and fallen into a shooting slump, hitting 33.3 percent of his shots this season. Still, teams remain curious about the 2017 lottery pick, who is raw offensively but already a stout, long-limbed, defensive player who has shown advanced skill there. The Magic have shown interest in the 20-year-old, according to a league source, with a scout in Philadelphia last night watching him. “He’s intriguing,” a different scout said.

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).

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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August 22, 2019 | 7:53 am EDT Update
Burton’s star shined bright; he was named the league’s MVP after averaging 23.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game. The performance piqued the interest of the Thunder, who have scouts all over the globe mining for gems like Burton. In addition to NBA interest, the year abroad also reinforced his need for a true connection in the locker room, like the one he created among his teammates back in high school. “When I play basketball, the team I’m on becomes my family,” he said firmly. “If I don’t feel it’s a family, I can’t play there. “That’s the main reason I came to OKC, because everybody was welcoming and family-oriented.”
Burton has survived a gnashing, tempestuous sea of instability as a player over the last six years, not to mention the emotional battle he waged in losing his mother. It’s a testament to the 25-year-old’s gentle heart and soul that he’s managed to navigate through it all and still maintain humility, grace and composure as a human being. “I honor my mom daily just by how I act,” he said. “I feel that she would be proud of me daily by how I interact with people.”
CM: And then we don’t talk anymore about his injury history, either. I mean, right before you took the job that was a significant concern, like would his legs be able to hold up. It doesn’t seem to be a variable with him anymore. Scott Brooks: When I took the job, you hear all the rumblings. ‘Brad’s not tough enough. He’s had injuries, you’re going to have him for 50 to 60 games. John and Brad don’t get along.’ Those things that you hear about all the time. One of the things that I saw with Brad from the day one, he practices every day and he basically played every game for the last three years. I think he missed two games since my first year.
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