New York Knicks, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: The Kristaps Porzingis trade isn’t great for Frank Ntilikina

Frank Ntilikina might not be the player on everybody’s minds after the New York Knicks traded away Kristaps Porzingis, but this deal has big implications for the French guard just the same.

The New York Knicks made plenty of statements when they decided to trade away former franchise cornerstone Kristaps Porzingis in a deal that brought back Dennis Smith Jr. Some concerned the upcoming free agency period, and some were about Porzingis himself. In addition to everything else, this deal says a lot about the Knicks and Frank Ntilikina.

New York ironically drafted Ntilikina above Smith Jr. in the 2017 NBA Draft, and now has both players on the roster. While Smith Jr.’s career in Dallas was not exactly rosy, especially this season, there’s no doubt that he’s outperformed his new teammate since the draft.

Ntilikina is scoring 5.9 points per game this season, the exact same mark he managed last year in roughly the same amount of minutes per game. He’s shooting 34.2 percent from the field and 29.1 percent from 3-point territory, both lower than last year’s rookie marks. As long and intriguing defensively as Ntilikina may be, those offensive numbers are just too bad to justify giving him major minutes on an actual NBA team. Luckily, the Knicks are more concerned with Tankathon than the NBA standings.

Ntilikina’s assists, rebounds, and steals per game are all down from last season as well, and he won’t get to compete with Smith Jr. right away as he sits with a sore groin. In a career that hasn’t contained much good news, this is rough stuff for the second-year point guard.

If the Knicks are in the mood to continue dealing, it might be in both parties’ best interest to find Ntilikina a new home. New York has another young point guard to run the floor as the team tanks for Zion Williamson, and Ntilikina seems like he could use a fresh shot in the league, although playing the two guard role could work too.

As a 6-foot-6 point guard with a 7-foot-1 wingspan who is just 20 years old, Frank Ntilikina has too much potential for him to simply not play on the Knicks. If New York’s plan is to shelve him, it feels better for all parties to move him elsewhere.

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