New York Knicks: Five players with something to prove for rest of 2018-19

New York Knicks Frank Ntilikina (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Frank Ntilikina (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks John Jenkins (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With little to play for, some New York Knicks still have something to prove before the season ends.

The New York Knicks are 11-48 and saw any postseason hope dwindle around one month into the year. There was always something to play for, with a young team trying to make its mark on an evolving NBA, but this season became saddled with losing streaks.

Friday marked the Knicks’ return from the All-Star break, leaving them 24 games to play. They lost the first one to the Minnesota Timberwolves, moving that much closer to the finish line.

Still, there’s a full roster of players around. Some of them have futures with the Knicks. Others don’t. Either way, the full group still has something to play for.

Which five players stand out with this season, or potentially their basketball careers, on the line for the next 23 games? Let’s take a look:

(Stats listed are as of the All-Star break)

5. John Jenkins

Slash Line: .500/.333/—
Stat Line: 10.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 3PM

John Jenkins only signed his fresh New York Knicks contract Thursday, agreeing to a two-year deal that guarantees salary for the rest of 2018-19. However, 2019-20 has a summer trigger date, meaning he’s playing for the future.

The first handful of games have proven strong for Jenkins, including a 25-minute night in a pre All-Star break win over the Atlanta Hawks. Head coach David Fizdale showed confidence in this former first-round pick, leading to this contract as the previous 10-day deal expired.

Even if Jenkins’ future contract gets picked up, he’s not guaranteed to stick with the Knicks. A $1.89 million salary is cheap enough to become filler for a grander trade, say New Orleans Pelicans star, Anthony Davis, and make him valuable enough to complete a deal. Maybe it’s not for Davis, but someone else.

It means Jenkins has something to play for, whether on the Knicks or another team. He struggled to find a role for the past five years since the Atlanta Hawks let him go, but as New York has nothing to play for, this allows the veteran guard to take advantage of a wide-open minutes situation down the stretch and reestablish an NBA career.