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New point guard Emmanuel Mudiay likely to take minutes from other Knicks guards

Knicks hope their latest acquisition can play Sunday against Pacers.

Emmanuel Mudiay #0 of the Denver Nuggets is

Emmanuel Mudiay #0 of the Denver Nuggets is guarded by Trey Burke #23 and Willy Hernangomez #14 of the New York Knicks at the Pepsi Center on Jan. 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Matthew Stockman

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Emmanuel Mudiay was a spectator and not a participant at Knicks practice on Saturday. The point guard was unable to practice, the team said, because Thursday’s trade wasn’t official yet.

“It’s something to do with Devin Harris getting his physical in Denver,” coach Jeff Hornacek said.

Harris went from Dallas to Denver and the Knicks sent Doug McDermott to Dallas and a 2018 second-round pick to Denver for Mudiay, who should play in Sunday’s 5 p.m. start at Indiana if there are no further holdups.

“We’ve talked a little bit,” Hornacek said of the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft. “Wish he could have been able to get out there and go through things, but he wasn’t allowed to. We’re going to have to continue to talk to him. Unfortunately, it’s an early game [Sunday], so we won’t have a shootaround, but we’ll go over things with him on film. He was able to watch things, at least. I think he has a pretty good idea, so I don’t think it’ll take long for him to adjust.”

Mudiay was not permitted to speak with the media, which might not have been a problem for him. The 21-year-old has not spoken to the Denver media this season as his star fell in the Mile High City.

Mudiay went from starting 66 games in his rookie year to zero this season. As a rookie, he averaged 12.8 points and 5.5 assists in 30.4 minutes. This season, he has averaged 8.5 points and 2.9 assists in 17.9 minutes in 42 games.

The Knicks, who have 34-year-old Jarrett Jack, 2017 first-round pick Frank Ntilikina, 19, and former lottery pick Trey Burke, 25, as point guards, are going to find time for Mudiay — probably at the expense of Jack.

“I would expect it probably to change a little bit,” Hornacek said. “There are four [point] guards there and we can play two of them together and kind of spread minutes out there and maybe reduce some of the other guys’ minutes.”

Hornacek also mentioned recent G League call-ups Luke Kornet and Isaiah Hicks as players who can expect to see some action as the Knicks play the rest of the season without the injured Kristaps Porzingis. Kornet and Hicks made their NBA debuts on Thursday in a blowout loss at Toronto.

The Knicks are looking for a point guard who can penetrate and pass, which Hornacek said is one of the 6-5, 200-pound Mudiay’s specialties.

“Anybody that comes in — especially at the point guard position — we want these guys to jump right in there,” Hornacek said. “You can’t be a point guard who is tentative in telling guys where to go. He’s going to have to learn it himself, but we want those guys to be leaders. That’s the best guy to have to be that leader, so just kind of relish that role, come right in and play hard and try to get guys involved and break guys down.

“One thing we don’t get a lot of is that penetration into the lane and kickouts. I think he’s got the size. When you watch him play, if a team puts pressure on him, it’s not like he panics about it. He’s got the size to kind of hold guys on the side he wants. He can get to where he wants. If he wants to get to the left elbow, he’s going to get there. And so we’re hoping that he can get in the lane and make plays. He’s used to throwing [Kenneth] Faried and [Mason] Plumlee lobs in Denver. Maybe with Isaiah and Luke out there now a little bit more, maybe he’ll have some of those opportunities.”

As for Ntilikina, Hornacek said he doesn’t expect the youngster to take a “woe is me” attitude after the Knicks acquired another young point guard.

“To me, mentally weak guys think that,” Hornacek said. “Mentally strong guys don’t think that. They say, ‘OK, bring on whoever. I don’t care.’ I can see that in Frank. He has that mentality.”

Notes & quotes: Enes Kanter said he expects to play Sunday after underdoing oral surgery and missing Thursday’s game.

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