With the Knicks changing the front office leadership with Leon Rose named team president, rumors about Ntilikina’s possible farewell only intensify because Rose has no connection with Ntilikina.
“If we were talking before last year’s [NBA] Draft, – said Ian Begley, I would have said that there is a 75% chance that the Knicks exchanged Ntilikina because other teams said the Knicks were in contact with them about potential Ntilikina deals. At one point, a team said the Knicks were ready to accept something like a second round pick for Ntilikina”.
During the 2018-19 season, Ntilikina fought injuries that didn’t allow him to get into a rhythm, scoring only 5.7 points and distributing 2.8 assists per game in 43 games. Even his offensive game has not made great strides since his beginner season.
However, an agreement was never reached, so the 21-year-old played his third season in the NBA trying to calm doubts. Begley thinks he did it in some respects.
“But I think Ntilikina has taken a step forward overall this year,” he explained. “Yes, his inconsistency in attack is still there, but especially before the season was suspended, Ntilikina was playing aggressively on both ends of the floor.”
His numbers made a small tick forward with 6.3 points per game in 57 games. But, as Begley pointed out, it would have gone higher if the season hadn’t been suspended. The percentage of shots – one of his biggest problems – also improved by just under 40 percent.
However, Ntilikina has not provided the Knicks with any consistent evidence that his offensive game will reach his defensive prowess.
Begley has a feeling Rose isn’t going to be shopping around the 6-foot-6 guard like the Knicks did last year.
“It’s hard for me to put a percentage right now on the likelihood that Ntilikina is back with the team, but I do think that Leon Rose isn’t going to be out there shopping Ntilikina as the Knicks have been previously,” Begley said.