As Knicks fans debate whether Frank Ntilikina is the next great Knick or complete bust1, rumors are starting to swirl about the former lottery pick’s future.
Let’s sort out what we know so far…
Almost all of the reporters on the Knicks beat have reported that other teams are interested in Ntilikina. No credible source has reported that the Knicks are looking to trade the young guard.
However, there does appear to be something going on in relation to how the organization views the French guard’s long-term future in New York.
We heard Chris Vernon, who has ties to Fizdale from his days in Memphis, report that the Knicks are not very high on Frank right now. “Everybody I talked to was out on him … It’s like ‘he’s not a PG’ … the kid can’t shoot … it was not a good report … I’m telling you this is from people with the team every damn day.”
We also have the evidence of his recent benching, and hints from David Fizdale that the rotation (which currently doesn’t include Frank) is stabilizing after early season tweaking, which at least suggests the team is less than sure about his role right now.
Speaking to reporters on December 5, Fizdale was asked about Ntilikina’s two straight DNPs, in which he responded:
What does David Fizdale hope Frank Ntilikina has learned from 2 straight DNPs?
“I don’t know if it’s a learning lesson or anything like that. I just want him to keep working hard and working on the things that we talk about. And when his time comes again, that he’s ready to go.”
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) December 5, 2018
Let’s now review what has been reported in terms of trade interest in Ntilikina, organized from the most credible to least credible sources.
Ian Begley reports that Phoenix reached out to the Knicks earlier this year about Frank.
Phoenix is among the teams who reached out to NYK to express interest in Frank Ntilikina. When PHO contacted NYK earlier in the year, NYK said it wasn’t open to moving Ntilikina, per ESPN sources. Some w/Suns were intrigued w/idea of pairing Ntilikina & Devin Booker, per sources
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) November 30, 2018
This is not the first time Phoenix has kicked the tires on Ntilikina. Back when they were looking to deal Eric Bledsoe, Frank’s name came up. As Ian Begley reported last October:
The Phoenix Suns’ focus in talks with the Knicks recently has been on Frank Ntilikina – not Willy Hernangomez — league sources told ESPN, but the Knicks remain uninterested in dealing their rookie point guard.
Of course, Bledsoe ended up in Milwaukee and Willy Hernangomez would eventually be traded by the Knicks.
The Suns even tried to get their hands on Ntilikina during talks about a possible Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving trade in July 2017.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) July 21, 2017
The Brooklyn Nets also expressed interest in Knicks’ second-year guard Frank Ntilikina, per sources. https://t.co/pRvPBE3DJb
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) December 2, 2018
Besides Phoenix and Brooklyn, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reports that Orlando and Minnesota have interest in Frankie Smokes.
Have heard that Minnesota also has interest in Frank Ntilikina, along with the Magic. @SBondyNYDN reported that the Grizzlies have inquired about the Knicks PG, and @IanBegley reported that the Suns reached out to the Knicks to express interest in him.
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) December 1, 2018
Stefan Bondy adds Memphis to the list of interested teams.
Memphis is another team that has inquired about Ntilikina https://t.co/xYV6ch8SWV
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) November 30, 2018
Marc Berman of the New York Post also notes that other teams have interest in Ntilikina, but has not listed the explicit teams.
Now we get into what I will classify more as “chatter.”
Chris Sheridan of Get More Sports reports that teams around the league believe Ntilikina will be wearing a different uniform by this year’s trade deadline:
New York is not actively shopping the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 draft, but there is a clear sense among other teams that Phil Jackson’s other first-round draft choice — the one not named Kristaps Porzingis — will be wearing a different uniform by the time the Feb. 7 trade deadline passes.
Sheridan notes that New York is not “actively shopping” the French guard and adds that none of the executives sourcing the information would speak on the record.
The report indicates that while Phoenix and Orlando, two teams tied to Frank in recent rumors, are looking for a starting point guard, neither is currently involved in any discussions, according to well-informed sources.
John Gambadoro of Arizonasports.com speculates that the Knicks are looking for draft picks to package for a star player in any deal that involves Ntilikina, and believes the Milwaukee pick owed to Phoenix could get a deal done.
By far the least credible report, if it can be counted as a report at all, comes from Legion Hoops:
The Knicks are discussing multiple trade scenarios for Frank Ntilikina – source says talks have made “the next step” with two teams from the Western Conference.
— Ross (@LegionHoopsRoss) December 5, 2018
So there you have it, from most credible to least credible, everything we know right now.
Other teams are interested in Frank, his role in the rotation is a bit precarious right now, but there is no indication (yet) that the Knicks are looking to trade the young guard.