New York Knicks: The clock is ticking on 2020-21 team options

Dennis Smith Jr., New York Knicks (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dennis Smith Jr., New York Knicks (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks have important team options to decide on before the end of October, and the clock is ticking for a decision.

NBA contracts always take precedence, especially with the modern-day player movement. These stem from free agency moves or players signing a deal with one team and asking for a trade elsewhere. However, it also relates to the end-life of rookie-scale contracts, and the New York Knicks have this ahead.

At the end of October, the Knicks have fourth-year team options to decide on. They can make a choice at any time before that, but with just under four weeks to announce something, the clock is ticking.

Coincidentally, this sits with two point guards that may battle for time in 2019-20.

Frank Ntilikina

Frank Ntilikina‘s option is for $6.17 million. Since joining the Knicks as the No. 8 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, he has not taken many steps forward, instead falling behind in the depth chart and not playing basketball at times.

The Frenchman barely appeared in half of his sophomore season’s games, missing most of the second half due to injuries; it stalled his progress and created questions on his future.

Even with positive play for France at the FIBA World Cup, Ntilikina’s spot with the 2019-20 Knicks remains in question. There is a returning starter at point guard, Elfrid Payton is aboard and Kadeem Allen returns on a two-way contract. The options are prevalent, and that damages the Frenchman’s playing-time opportunities.

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It may take playing another position for the third-year man to find chances. Even then, the depth chart is full across the board, so head coach David Fizdale, if he feels its worthwhile, has a task of letting Ntilikina shine before that crucial date. Without the lane to make an impression, it will be difficult to receive a fourth year.

Dennis Smith Jr.

Picked one spot behind Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr.‘s fourth-year option is for $5.68 million. Again, another contract that will not hold the Knicks down, and this could be the likelier of the two players to stick around for 2020-21.

New York has only received a sample size of Smith, after arriving from the Dallas Mavericks in the Kristaps Porzingis trade. Injuries also limited his appearances down the stretch, so a longer look is necessary before deciding on his future with the organization.

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Perhaps it is even inevitable for the New York Knicks to keep Smith beyond this season. However, it takes an official announcement to ensure anything, so let’s see what the front office chooses before Halloween.