BOSTON — Frank Ntilikina is aware of the Eric Bledsoe situation. But the Knicks’ rookie point guard doesn’t seem concerned about anything but his health.
“I heard he wants to be traded,” Ntilikina said after Tuesday’s shootaround.
A source confirmed that the Knicks spoke to the Suns about Bledsoe, who wants out of Phoenix. Ntilikina’s name came up in the conversation. But the source said at this point the Knicks don’t intend to move Ntilikina or Willy Hernangomez for Bledsoe. Ntilikina said management hasn’t told him that, though.
“Not really. No,” Ntilikina said. “I’m focused on basketball and on how I can make my ankle be better and my game be better so I can be back on the court.”
He also said that “it’s nice” that Phoenix appears to have interest in him. “But,” Ntilikina said, “I’m really focused on what I’m doing right now, on how to be better, how to be back on the court for my team.”
Ntilikina, the No. 8 pick in the draft, missed his second straight game due to a sprained left ankle. He did a long workout after practice that included running and cutting so he appears to be getting closer to practicing. Ntilikina said he stills feels it “a little bit” when he goes side-to-side but hopes he can play Friday against the Nets.
The Knicks have gone out of their way to include Ntilikina and Hernagomez in their list of cornerstone players. So it would be surprising if they were to move either unless they get a difference maker in return, or can shed salaries of veterans such as Joakim Noah or Courtney Lee.
“We brought him in,” coach Jeff Hornacek said of Ntilikina. “We’re trying to develop him. When he doesn’t have the injuries, he’s a smart kid that really comes up and you tell him once and he’s got the plays. He’s got to battle through these little nagging injuries he has right now, but we want him to get back as soon as possible so he can play.”
Eventually, the Knicks will have to address the logjam at center. Hernangomez isn’t in the rotation right now, and Noah is suspended nine more games after Tuesday’s against Boston for violating the terms of the anti-drug policy.
Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn are playing center and Hornacek said Kristaps Porzingis would play some as well against the Celtics.