New York Knicks: Five potential trade destinations for Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks Frank Ntilikina(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Frank Ntilikina(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

3. San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs were a top defensive team for almost two decades. David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Bruce Bowen and role players to cycle through, provided this, and it contributed towards five championships. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green were the latest pieces, before their departures.

In 2018-19, it’s a different story for San Antonio.

The Spurs sit in the middle of the pack defensively, with the 18th-ranked 110.9 points allowed per game. They also let teams shoot 47.9 percent from the field, the NBA’s third-worst mark.

It’s unusual stats for head coach Gregg Popovich’s team. They don’t have the defensive-minded Dejounte Murray around for the season, due to a torn ACL. DeMar DeRozan is more known for offense than what he brings at the opposite end of the court.

Leonard, Green and Kyle Anderson‘s respective defensive impact wasn’t replaced, and that has proven troublesome.

While not the only answer, the Spurs can target Ntlikina from the New York Knicks as their next perimeter defender. He brings the length other healthy guards don’t, and it’s a projectable player for Popovich to groom.

The Spurs own the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 first-round pick, which has a one-to-20 protection, before turning into two second-round picks. Given the latter’s standing as the NBA’s best record, this pick should convey.

However, it may not work, given the salaries, San Antonio would have to offer on expiring deals and the valuable youth, unless it’s Dante Cunningham, Quincy Pondexter and a protected first-round pick that’s not Toronto’s.

Pondexter and Jakob Poeltl is another option, but having that young piece involved might not net New York a pick. Also, note Pondexter can’t join a trade until Dec. 15, since the Spurs signed him as a free agent.