New York Knicks: David Fizdale teases Frank Ntilikina’s return to the court

New York Knicks Frank Ntilikina (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks Frank Ntilikina (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Frank Ntilikina did not enter Thursday’s game for the New York Knicks, marking his third consecutive absence via coach’s decision. However, that may change soon.

Frank Ntilikina’s path from the preseason to Thursday’s game for the New York Knicks started high, but crashed and burned over the past week. Head coach David Fizdale once looked for any way to utilize the sophomore from France, but once his offensive struggles settled in, it resulted in lesser playing time and an eventual seat at the end of the bench.

Fizdale did not play Ntilikina against the Celtics, nor in New York’s previous two games. It continued the cycle of different players falling out of the rotation, with Trey Burke and Damyean Dotson as the previous two.

The Knicks were down by over 20 points in the waning minutes of the Boston loss, and Fizdale cleared out his bench by using Luke Kornet, not Ntilikina. The reasoning for this, per The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov, was Fizdale’s view of Ntilikina “as a rotation player. So I just didn’t want to do that to him…”

“You’ll be seeing Frank on the court sometime soon,” will be the eye-opening part of the 44-year-old’s comments. Just how soon will he come back?

These comments followed Fizdale telling Marc Berman of The New York Post, “We have to know who’s moving forward out of this group. And it won’t be every single player on this roster, unfortunately.”

It’s still just 26 games into the 2018-19 season, so there’s time for Ntilikina to become part of this group that moves forward. Of course, he probably needs to rise above a 33.3 percent mark from the field and little to no improvement in other attributes to make this realistic.

How much time Ntilikina receives, whenever he returns to game action, remains to be seen. He’ll have to dive back into a 10-man rotation that just added Courtney Lee and has Burke temporarily sidelined due to injury. So, it may take fending off more than just one player.

Given the rotation’s volatility, there’s no clear-cut way Fizdale will trend towards with making another change. Various starting lineups have taken the court, and the aforementioned players moving back and forth from the bench’s end.

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Ntilikina was the latest product of a volatile situation. It seemingly won’t last forever, but attention will go towards Fizdale’s eventual decision to insert him into the rotation, rather than finding meaningless minutes at the end of blowout losses.