Frank Ntilikina is coming to New York. That could be where he plays.
The French guard is flying here for Thursday’s NBA Draft. He’s one of the players the Knicks are considering with the eighth pick.
A league source said the Knicks have shown great interest in Ntilikina, and scouted him extensively in France. But the Mavericks also are said to be “all in” on Ntilikina, according to an ESPN report.
The report said that Vincent Collet, Ntilikina’s coach in France, would be working on the Mavericks’ staff during summer league. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and president Donnie Walsh traveled to Europe to meet with Ntilikina recently.
The Knicks have sent representatives overseas to see Ntilikina. On his Twitter page, Knicks scout Makhtar Ndiaye lists France as a place where he spends a lot of time. So the Knicks have done their work on the French teenager.
They also pick one place ahead of the Mavericks, so Dallas might need to trade up to take the 6-5 Ntilikina. ESPN reported Ntilikina wants to be in Dallas.
In the days leading up to the draft there is always a lot of misdirection, misinformation and smoke screens. The Knicks have interest in Ntilikina, but they could have several guards to choose from when it’s their time to pick Thursday.
Kentucky combo guard Malik Monk and North Carolina State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. could be available. The Knicks worked out Monk at their facility. They also met with Smith and attended a private workout with him.
The Knicks also have been linked to Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell, who reportedly will work out for them Tuesday. But eight would seem high to pick him.
Ntilikina, who will turn 19 next month, hasn’t worked out for NBA teams because his team, Strasbourg, advanced to the French League Final. The series is tied 2-2, and the deciding game is later this week. It’s unclear whether he will return to France for that.
Team president Phil Jackson has said the Knicks would be targeting “wings and guards” with the pick. They’re looking for players who can perform in the triangle offense. It’s been a focus during workouts, according to many of the prospects who have visited the Knicks.
Jackson prefers big, versatile guards in the triangle. Ntilikina, who is more of a combo guard, meets both requirements. The Knicks also have had some success internationally lately.
They drafted Kristaps Porzingis two years ago, acquired the draft rights for Willy Hernangomez and signed Mindaugas Kuzminskas in free agency.