Knicks Rumors: Could Frank Ntilikina be part of Leon Rose’s long-term plans?

Frank Ntilikina, New York Knicks (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Frank Ntilikina, New York Knicks (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

Where does New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina fit in the team’s plans?

With the departure of Steve Mills as New York Knicks team president, many have wondered whether Frank Ntilikina still has support within a revamped front office that’s no longer vested in the decision to select him with the 8th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. But hints are starting to emerge that the young guard’s place on the roster is still safe.

In answering a mailbag question, New York Post reporter Marc Berman wrote, “While [Ntilikina] parted ways [with Leon Rose as his agent] after his second season amid bruised feelings, the sense is Rose wants to turn the Frenchman into a valuable piece.”

Ntilikina was represented by Rose at CAA before he decided to switch agents, causing a reported strain in the relationship at the time. However, it appears that might be water under the bridge now.

As Berman notes in his piece, Rose spoke highly of the young point guard during his only public comments since being named president of the team. Speaking to MSG Networks, Rose said, “Given the right circumstances, I think he can really prosper.” Granted, the former CAA big wig also had nice things to say about Dennis Smith Jr., who many believe could be on his way out of New York.

Frank Ntilikina generates plenty of opinion among New York Knicks fans

Perhaps no role player in Knicks’ history has generated more conversation than third-year guard Frank Ntilikina. The Frenchman has become a sensation on #KnicksTwitter for his tantalizing defensive ability. There is an equally vocal section of Knicks fans who are ready to move on from the guard who is averaging 6 points per game on 36.6% shooting over his three-year career.

New York doesn’t have to make an immediate decision on Ntilikina’s future, as he is signed on his rookie scale contract through next season at $6.2 million. However, he will be due to become a restricted free agent in 2021, and he could be an interesting trade piece for Rose to dangle to improve the roster in the near-term.

SNY reported in April that Rose appears less willing to shop Ntilikina than the previous regime, who had him on the trading block during last year’s NBA draft.

Perhaps the Knicks will look to build up the French guard’s stock before trying to move him in a bigger deal for a disgruntled star player. Ntilikina has seen his development stunted by inconsistent playing time during his tenure playing at Madison Square Garden.

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For the Knicks, as they look to build around RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and their upcoming lottery pick, it will be interesting to see where other young players such as Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Damyean Dotson, and Ntilikina fit into their plans. For now, Frank appears safe.