Frank Ntilikina has missed seven straight games with a sprained right knee, and for all intents and purposes the 22-year-old is out indefinitely because the Knicks haven’t provided a timeline, instead preferring to keep secret the seriousness of the injury.
The Frenchman suffered his sprained right knee in Dec. 29’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a contest in which Ntilikina played just over 16 minutes and put up a typical Frank stat line of 5 points (2-5 from the field, 1-3 from deep), 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. It wasn’t obvious when he got hurt, although the next day we were informed the injury had taken place in the first quarter and Frank played through the pain.
Tom Thibodeau says Frank Ntilikina hurt his knee in the 1st quarter last night but played through it. He suggested that Ntilikina would been a couple days of treatment for the injury. Ntilikina is officially considered day to day and injury isn’t considered serious.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) December 30, 2020
On Jan. 9, this blogger reached out to the Knicks with the following question:
Is there any info you can provide on the health status of Frank Ntilikina? Is he considered day to day with his knee sprain, or is he expected to miss a significant amount of games? I haven’t seen any definitive info on him other than the beat reporters saying he’s out just prior to each recent game.
“We haven’t released a timetable.”
Oh, gotcha. Thanks! The next day, Tom Thibodeau told the media that it would probably be another week before there’s an update on Ntilikina’s knee.
Thibodeau said it will likely be another week before Frank Ntilikina gets an update on his sprained knee.— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) January 10, 2021
Look, this situation pales in comparison to real scandals — the whole insurrection thing, for instance, seems a little more important than the status of Ntilikina — but it’s definitely a little weird that the Knicks are remaining so mum when it comes to Frank’s knee.
For some context, the Knicks don’t always remain totally silent on the extent of player injuries. Alec Burks has also been out awhile with a sprained left ankle, but on Jan. 6, the team said he underwent further testing, is using a walking boot and will be re-evaluated in 7-10 days. Now we don’t have to figure it all out for ourselves; we know that Burks’ sprained ankle is bad enough that he requires a walking boot, and we have a timeframe for when he’ll be re-evaluated.
In late December, the Knicks said that Obi Toppin, who hasn’t played since the season opener with a strained right calf, would be re-evaluated in 7-10 days. This week, Thibs said that Toppin is “progressing” but hasn’t been cleared for contact yet, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Not only that, Thibodeau provided details on what’s going on with the rookie:
“Right now it’s 1-on-0, with some movement, jumping, change of direction and that sort’ve thing,” Thibodeau said. “Then he’ll progress to 2-on-2, 3-on-3, and get to the point where he can get to 5-on-5 and get through practice.”
Ntilikina has a sprained knee, and hopefully in a week we’ll be given some concrete info. But considering it didn’t seem like anything serious at first, the fact that the Knicks have remained so mum on updates is simply puzzling. Do the team doctors really not have any sort of timeframe for when his knee might feel better?
The Knicks are 3-4 without Ntilikina this year. With him, they were 2-2. He’s 5-9 (56%) from beyond the arc thus far this season, and while that might be a small sample size, it’s good for second place on the team in three-point percentage, behind only Burks (10-15, 67%). As a team, the Knicks are currently 8th worst in the league at three-point shooting, and they’re less than a 3% drop from falling to dead last.
The Knicks have lost three straight, and it’s obvious that the short bench is causing guys to get gassed. Immanuel Quickley has fallen back to earth, perhaps in part because he’s a rookie being asked to shoulder serious responsibility as the backup point guard, since Ntilikina isn’t available and Dennis Smith Jr. looks completely lost on the court.
Frank isn’t some savior that will surely spark a turnaround. It would just be nice to have an idea of how serious this mysterious knee sprain is.