Why the New York Knicks should keep Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina
Apr 6, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina (11) moves the ball against Miami Heat shooting guard Rodney McGruder (17) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The youth on the New York Knicks allows them to think for the future and not the present – the reality is, the organization is at least one season away from being a legitimate contender, and that’s if they can lure in a max-contract player to help spark an accelerated sense of progress.

Keeping the already applied youth players should be a priority, but there are some on the cusp of veteranship that are considered trading pieces.

According to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, they are reportedly shopping Ntilikina for a potential trade:

“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.”

I don’t believe they should trade Ntilikina for one simple reason, his defense. If the Knicks are unable to sign a quality point guard in free agency, they will be left with Dennis Smith Jr. who is more versed in scoring that defensive ability. The team has only a few hours left to acquire a draft pick this year unless they are willing to move him and earn a selection in 2020.

Letting him go would deplete the roster of a solid defender and a player with plenty of potential. Extracting it has been an issue on the scoring side, but he’s working tirelessly to improve his game.

Frank is entering his third season with the club and will carry a $6.18 million option for the 2020-21 season. If the Knicks decline, they will force Ntilikina to test the waters of free agency next summer. Gaining value now by adding a draft pick makes sense, but only if they are able to bring in a point guard like Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, or even Ja Morant in the draft.