The vultures have started to circle the New York Knicks, but fans should not fall victim to recent reports related to this season’s sub-par play from Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox, which are written to elicit despair despite the fact that we are supposed to be trusting the process.
Rumor has it, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, that teams including the Orlando Magic have shown interest in trading for the Ntilikina, who has struggled to find his place without superstar buddy Kristaps Porzingis on the court. According to Vorkunov, there is “NBA-wide interest” in Ntilikina, and a Magic scout was in Philadelphia just the other night to watch the 20-year-old Frenchman perform; that scout probably left the arena frustrated, as he only got to watch Ntilikina play just over 14 minutes of fairly ugly basketball (0 points, 0-5 from the field, 2 assists, and nothing else). The Phoenix Suns are another team that has expressed interest in Ntilikina, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley.
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
As for Knox, a recent New York Post article penned by longtime Knicks beat reporter Marc Berman quoted a number of anonymous sources, including NBA scouts and team executives, as saying that the 19-year-old rookie is basically a bust. He “settles too fast for 3-point shots and refuses to move the ball,” according to the article, which also took shots at Ntilikina. Considering Knox has played 16 games, missed time with a sprained ankle, and hasn’t even been on this earth for two whole decades, it seems a bit premature to proclaim that he is a bad NBA basketball player.
Before everyone loses their composure and freaks out, let’s remind ourselves that combined, Ntilikina and Knox are less than 40-years-old. Neither is old enough yet to legally console themselves with a drink after a poor performance. They are playing on a lottery-bound team that is led by a first-year head coach and is missing its centerpiece.
It has become cliche to say “trust the process,” and the rate with which 76ers center Joel Embiid uses the phrase has almost ruined it for everyone, but when it comes to the Knicks right now, trusting the process is crucial.
Knox has yet to play with Porzingis, and on this team, this year, he is certain to take his lumps. But you can’t fully judge what he is until you’ve given him at least a full year of reps, and the real test will be seeing how he performs when playing with a 7’3” superstar, either later this year or next season. Meanwhile, there is tape of Ntilikina on the court with the Unicorn, and even in a meager amount of minutes — during a season in which Jarrett Jack gobbled up most of the point guard playing time — the two formed a frightening duo with unlimited arm reach.
Ask yourself, are you really ready to give up on the potential for stuff like this to happen on a nightly basis?
Fansided’s Tommy Dee put it succinctly on Twitter:
Why would anyone choose to truly evaluate Ntilikina without Porzingis in the lineup?— Tommy Dee (@ThomasCDee) November 30, 2018
And why would you leave out the fact that Porzingis and Ntilikina were the highest positive net rating duo (4.4) on the team that played > 300 mins together?
For what it’s worth, David Fizdale told Newsday’s Steve Popper on Friday that Ntilikina and Knox and are simply young guys trying to figure out how to play in the NBA. He certainly didn’t sound like a guy who has given up on either player, which you can see for yourself in his full statement below:
Fizdale on the criticism of Knox and Ntilikina... pic.twitter.com/AaTwLkTWso— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) November 30, 2018
Instead of overreacting to reports concerning Knox and Ntilikina, it’s time to call a spade a spade: other teams are hoping to convince the Knicks that they should trade these young players now, while they still can, probably for dimes on the dollar. Scott Perry and Steve Mills have signaled that they intend to preach patience, and Knicks fans should hope that they stick to their plan.