If possible, one trade the New York Knicks should be all-in on

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

Bleacher report released an interesting ‘course-changing’ trade for the New York Knicks.  It’s a trade that certainly makes sense and should have a majority of fans on board.

THE TRADE

Knicks Receive: G Devin Booker

Suns Receive: 2020 first-round pick, PF Julius Randle, G Frank Ntilikina

First off, we here at Empire Sports Media are big supporters of Ntilikina.  He has been and will continue to be one of the best defensive players for the Knicks.  Ntilikina has improved his game each season he’s been in the league.

The coaching staff and fan want him to be more aggressive offensively.  Thankfully, he brought that aggressiveness that he found playing in the FIBA World Cup to the Knicks.  It was certainly a step in the right direction for sure.

Ntilikina was a player that had Knicks fans saying ‘Who!?!’ when drafted and thought was a bust his first two years.  And while, he’s progression still hasn’t been what people thought, fans still always have faith him in.  Ntilikina is a clear fan favorite.

However, if this trade were to be serious, trading him would be a no-brainer.  If you can get an elite scorer, Booker, for a still developing point guard, you pull the trigger.  The Knicks desperately need an elite, electric scorer and who better than Booker.

As for Randle, a majority of Knicks fan want him traded anyway.  Yes, his stats are very solid but it’s the little nuances that get fans aggravated.  Maybe Phoenix would be a better fit anyway.  Smaller market with a lot less pressure similar to New Orleans.

We’ve always said the Knicks shouldn’t be trading away first-round picks anymore.  That shipped has sailed.  Even the Knicks came out and said they didn’t want to trade picks away.  However, if it’s only ONE first-round pick for Booker then you pull that trigger as quickly as possible.  But it probably wouldn’t be just one pick for a player like Booker though.

Pairing Booker with RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson would certainly be a major jump in the right direction.  Barrett and Booker at the 1, 2 positions is something to really get excited about.  Those two alone can lure free agents then add in the young, beastly Robinson.  Those are 3 players that can get the New York Knicks back on track.

New York Knicks ‘on the fence’ whether to exercise Knox’s 4th year option

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox

The New York Knicks new team president Leon Rose has a lot on his plate in his first months on the job.  One decision he’ll have to make regards Kevin Knox.

Rumors are out there that Rose is ‘on the fence’ on whether to exercise Knox’s 4th year option.  The Knicks took a chance on Knox and it really hasn’t paid off.  Knox will be earn $5.8 million in his 4th year.

Even out of college, Knox’s college coach John Calipari said Knox is a ‘project’.  However, there was plenty of upside in his game.  Recently, Calipari said that the Knicks shouldn’t trade him as those rumors are out there as well.  Rose and Calipari have a close relationship.

In his first few seasons, Knox would start then get benched.  It’s a rollercoaster when it comes to minutes.  That‘s why his confidence was slow low in his 3rd year.

It didn’t help Knox’s confidence when the Knicks signed a bunch of forwards, pushing him to the bench.  Marcus Morris took a lot of Knox’s minutes this season.

Knox is only 20-years-old.  He’s still very young and has the skills to be a contributor for the Knicks in the future.  Rose should exercise his option but being ‘on the fence’ comes as no surprise.

The Knicks need to see how Knox bounces back after a terrible start to his season.  Before the season was suspended due to the COVID-19, Knox started to play better.  He was contributing on both sides of the floor and showing confidence.

It seems like Knox is getting the same treatment that Frank Ntilikina got to start his Knicks career.  Fans soured on Ntilikina but the organization had patience when it came to his development and his game is starting to progress.  The New York Knicks shouldn’t give up on Knox like they didn’t give up on Ntilikina and exercise his 4th year.

Report: The New York Knicks could commit to Frank Ntilikina under Leon Rose

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

The New York Knicks have a Frank Ntilikina situation to deal with, but how will Leon Rose approach it?

The Knicks and french point guard Frank Ntilikina have had a tumultuous relationship, mostly on the side of the organization, firing and hiring coaches like they’re enjoying a flight at a brewery. However, with Leon Rose, formerly an NBA super-agent, taking over, Ntilikina might actually benefit from the Knicks’ latest transaction.

Interestingly, Rose’s agency manages Ntilikina’s contractual agreements and marketing strategy, so there’s a potential conflict of interest there. However, it could bode well for the young point guard who’s looking for faith and motivation.

Ntilikina is a quality player with a defensive focus, as his offensive production has been limited in recent years. This past season, the PG posted 6.3 points per game, the highest its been in his entire career. Considering how low that number is, you can see how limited his offensive capabilities are.

His inefficiencies in some areas have led to the Knicks to explore trading him in the past, but those days might be behind him.

“It’s hard for me to put a percentage right now on the likelihood that Ntilikina is back with the team, but I do think that Leon Rose isn’t going to be out there shopping Ntilikina as the Knicks had been previously.”

I view Ntilikina as a situational player with great depth value, but I don’t believe he’s a starting point guard in the NBA. His lack of offensive development has severely hurt his abilities on the court, leading to Elfrid Payton overtaking him as the starter.

The categories that saw bumps were free-throw percentage (.767 in 2018 –>.864 in 2019-20), turnovers by .1, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage. Tellingly, most of his offensive numbers saw positive movement, but so minimal that it didn’t have much of an effect. His 5.8 attempts per game from the field was a significant decrease from the previous two seasons, indicating he played fewer minutes but was a bit better while no the court.

Overall, small incremental growth is a positive sign, and Rose could see that as a stimulus for keeping him.

Ntilikina has persevered as a member of the New York Knicks

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina is staying put, for now.  Leon Rose isn’t shopping the 3rd year man, according to SNY’s Ian Begley.

The 21-year old Ntilikina has had a wild rollercoaster ride to start his NBA career.  The Knicks, & then team prisoner Phil Jackson, selected him 8th overall in 2017.

Ntilikina had, still has, a high ceiling. When selected, he was ‘no-name’ for most American basketball fans.  Coming out of France, he somewhat of ‘project’.  He was known for his defensive capabilities, not so much offense.  Ntilkina wasn’t the best shooter so that’s what needed the most work.

Many fans wanted Ntilikina traded for the longest time or not selected by the Knicks at all.  He’ll be linked to a lot of players in that draft that have had better careers already.  For example, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, selected 13th, and Heat center Bam Adebayo, 14th.

Despite all the negativity that surrounded Ntilikina thus far, he’s persevered.  He’s had 5 head coaches in his 3-year tenure with the Knicks. Ntilikina has also been the consistent professional dealing with numerous other guards being brought in by the Knicks.  We’ve seen the likes of Dennis Smith Jr., Trey Burke, Emmanuel Mudiay, Timmy Hardaway Jr., Elfrid Payton, etc.

Some Knicks fans may not believe it but Ntilikina has improved his game each season.  First, he improved his defense to adapt to NBA style of play.  Then, his passing.  After the FIBA basketball World Cup, his confidence, aggressive and shot all improved.

Before the NBA season was suspended due to COVID-19, Ntilikina’ game was outstanding.  He was aggressive, seeing the floor beautifully, providing lockdown defense and a fan favorite.  Ntilikina hasn’t given up on being a valuable asset for the future and, hopefully, Rose & the New York Knicks haven’t either.

Thoughts on the New York Knicks season, if it’s over

The New York Knicks and rest of the NBA season is in question.  The season could resume in a month or two and it could jump right into the playoffs.  But, everything in the sports world is a giant question mark currently.

With that being said, if the NBA returns and goes right into the playoffs, the Knicks season would be over.  We can look back on the season and determine what were the positives, if any.

First off, Knicks fans are spoiled.  More so than any other fan base.  It’s New York so the expectations are to contend for a championship.  It doesn’t matter whether all teams were good or bad the season before.  They’re expected to be contenders each year.

This season for the Knicks started with big, optimistic expectations that quickly turned for the worst.  That is something that all fans know very well.  The season began with thoughts of the Knicks sneaking into the back-end of the playoffs.  But, after a 4-17 start and head coach David Fizdale fired, that quickly vanished.

While the players always said the right things about striving to get better and competing for a playoff spot, the realism was they were far from it.  All and all, it was a typical Knicks season.  Big expectations with awful results.

The Knicks had a bunch of good things that came out of this season but the negatives out way the positives.  Positives were the play of rookie RJ Barrett and his ability to show the all-star capabilities for the future.  Mitchell Robinson’s progression a player and work on committing fewer fouls.  And Julius Randle didn’t fit well with the Knicks in his first season despite good stats.

And towards the end of the season, the aggressiveness and positive progression of Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox.  Knox had a smaller sample size at the end after a disastrous start to the season but thankfully fans saw something.  While more in-depth grades and thoughts will come, the consensus of the New York Knicks season was another stinker.

Should the Knicks extend Frank Ntilikina or sign a free agent option?

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

The Frank Ntilikina debate is a debate as old as time, and now that the New York Knicks and their fans have plenty of time on their hands to argue, it’s time to consider the reality of the situation.

Ntilikina is a good basketball player; he’s just not starter quality. His offensive efficiency is abysmal, averaging only 6.3 points per game, a staggering .6 points greater than 2018. In fact, his offensive output is nearly identical to last season, indicating little to no growth in the area. His defense, though, is a reason to keep him around for the long-term, even if he’s a situational player.

Should the New York Knicks extend Ntilikina?

If the Knicks do decide to extent Ntilikina, he will be the first rookie since 1994 to earn more time in New York after his rookie-deal. Charlie Ward was the last Knick to earn the honor. While Ntilikina hasn’t developed his offensive abilities to the peak most believed he had, having endured multiple front-office changes in less than three years is indicative of his progress.

It’s difficult to value Frank based on his offense since his defense is far better. The Knicks still need to find a top point guard to inject into their starting five — Ntilikina is a better reserve option and late-game defensive player. If the Knicks can retain him for about $8 million per season, they would be in good shape for the future. Ntilikina isn’t close to reaching his full potential — a consistent/quality coach could bring the best out of the young Frenchman.

Two potential free agents to consider:

1.) Jeff Teague

At 31-years-old, Teague is fighting age; however, he’s still a quality player who can play at a high level. Having been traded from the Timberwolves to the Atlanta Hawks, Teague is still averaging 10.9 points, 5.2 assists, and a .457 two-point percentage. His offensive production has slowly decreased over the years, but he can be a serviceable stop-gap in the meantime.

2.) Goran Dragic

Dragic would be a great point guard for the Knicks to target in free agency next offseason. At 33-years-old, Dragic is still a capable scorer, averaging 16.1 points per game this season. His .491 two-point percentage is the highest of Teague and Ntilikina, making him a reliable option for that reason. His defensive traits have deteriorated, but that’s why the Knicks have Ntilikina, after all.

New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina’s Defensive Assertiveness is Earning Him Respect Around The League

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina received high praises from his peer competitor Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz. Donovan Mitchell stated,

He’s one of the toughest defenders I’ve had to face. He’s a guy I really respect in this league just because he goes and does it the right way. He’s really quiet but really efficient, the way he’s able to lock in. Imo

Frank Ntilikina is a plus defender and intangibles guy for the Knicks. The guard from Strasbourg is becoming a valuable and efficient weapon for the New York Knicks off the bench. Some wonder if the Knicks already have their point guard of the future in Ntilikina. There are some who believe the Knicks should draft the best player possible on draft night instead of drafting for positional needs.

With tantalizing talent at the top of the mock draft such as Obi Toppin, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman, Leon Rose and the Knicks will need to make some important decisions and crucial evaluations. LaMelo Ball has been linked to the Knicks through current mock drafts and his dad’s interview with FS1’s Uninterrupted.

Leon Rose has been connected to Frank Ntilikina. Leon Rose represented Ntilikina during his first two seasons in the NBA. Even though Ntilikina changed agents, Ntilikina’s respect level for Leon Rose has never wavered,
According to Ntilikina,

Leon is an expert in his job. He knows what he’s doing. He was a great agent and I’m sure he’s going to do great things here. Coming in the league, I didn’t know what to expect. I was just ready for whatever. And it’s been a dream, Now I’ve just got to see what’s ahead and keep building. So it is what it is. I’m just focusing on being the best player I can be in the future and helping my team be the best team it can.

Frank Ntilikina’s defense is getting even better for the New York Knicks

Mike Miller, Frank Ntilikina

The New York Knicks have defensive all-star in the making.  Frank Ntilikina’s defense continues to improve each game, especially in crunch time.

In the Knicks most recent defeat, Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell praised the defense of Ntilikina.  He stated that “He’s one of the toughest defenders I ever have to face…it’s great the Knicks continue to give him multiple shots because he deserves it.”

Ntilikina does get a lot of criticism from Knicks fans, however, his overall game has improved this season.  This is coming after a very good outing with his native country of France in the FIBA World Cup.  Especially of recent, you can see that Ntilikina’s confidence gets stronger and stronger each game.

Some with also say that the comments made by Mitchell was “just being nice.”  He have a pretty in-depth analysis to just be nice.”  So, to say that Mitchell “is just being nice” is inaccurate.

His defense will always be there.  That is why Ntilikina is always in at the end of the game on the opponents best guard player to put the ‘clamps’ on them.  It first happen when the Knicks played the Luka and Mavs then against Russell Westbrook and the Rockets.

When given the time to develop and grow, Ntilikina has proven that he can be a defensive stud for the Knicks.  His offensive will hopefully come in time but the confidence is there.  He’s been aggressive and shooting more often, building off his productive games of recent.  If he can nail down that mid-range jumper, he’ll be an instant starter for the New York Knicks.

Thank the higher powers the New York Knicks have RJ Barrett

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

If it wasn’t for RJ Barrett, the New York Knicks would be unwatchable this season.  He’s been one of the only bright spots in this gloomy time for the organization.

Last night’s game proved that there is some hope for the Knicks, thanks to Barrett.  Of course the Knicks lost, 123-112 in Houston, but watching Barrett eased the pain.

Barrett showed the Knicks fans base that he has the ability to be a star in this league.  All the talent and ability is there, but getting last night performance to be consistent is key.  He’s probably the only player, besides Mitchell Robinson, that fans aren’t worried about their player development.  They’ll be just fine.

Barrett looked confident, strong and aggressive all night.  His ability to control his body while driving to the bucket and absorbing contact is a thing of beauty.  It’s by far the best in the league for rookies.  And you know things are cooking for Barrett when he’s knocking down 3’s as well.

Everything he did last night should make Knicks fans smile.  Barrett was able to push the ball up court as the backup point guard, with a depleted back court, and find the open man.  Case-in-point.  Only him and Elfrid Payton have that ability this season.

Maybe it was playing better competition that brought out an even better Barrett?  Whatever it was, it’s the reason why the Knicks said that Barrett, and Robinson, were untouchable at the trade deadline.  He’s the main building block for the future and in-coming team president Leon Rose.

In a season when it’s been mostly negative, Barrett continues to shine and show fans that he’s the reason the New York Knicks should have hope for the future.

This is what the New York Knicks should do this summer

New York Knicks

The New York Knicks are still in the early stages of a rebuild.  No matter what anyone says, they’re several pieces away from contending in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks need shooters.  After the Marcus Morris trade, the team took a big hit shooting wise.  There are some shooters that may be on the market that the Knicks should try for.

The Sacramento Kings have a decision to make regarding Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic.  Hield was replaced in the starting lineup by Bogdanovic which left him feeling some type of way.  He’ll also be a free agent this upcoming summer.

Therefore, Hield coming off the bench is something that he doesn’t want long term.  A trade could requested since he’s unhappy.  The Kings may go Bogdanovic since he’s younger.

The Knicks are in the market for a shooter and they have picks to play with.  However, the picks are something the team doesn’t want to part with.  They could offer picks and a young player, like Kevin Knox.

Lauri Markkanen is another player that should be on the Knicks radar.  The excitement in Chicago as dwindled away with the emergence of Wendell Carter Jr.  Draft picks and a young player could be in player for Markkanen.  Adding a shooting power forward alongside Mitchell Robinson would be the perfect fit.

In the draft, the Knicks should and will target a point guard.  Whether that’s Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball all depends on their draft position.  If they decide to go with something other than a point guard, Fred Van Vleet needs to be a consideration.

Van Vleet will get big money from Toronto or somewhere else.  If they don’t pursue him, which most they likely won’t, the Knicks can run it back with Elfrid Payton, Frank Ntilikina and whoever they draft, saying it’s a point guard.

Leon Rose and the New York Knicks will have a lot of options this summer saying this ‘new’ front office makes those drastic changes.