Frank Ntilikina improving but out for Knicks’ summer league opener
ORLANDO, Fla. — After being drafted by the Knicks, Frank Ntilikina worked out in the same gym as Carmelo Anthony, and the two had a conversation. But Ntilikina said Anthony didn’t have any message and didn’t talk to him about being a Knick.
“No, we talked,” Ntilikina said after summer league practice Friday. “Just learning about each other. I saw him in the gym, so we talked together. He’s a good guy.”
They weren’t at the Knicks’ practice facility, but at Life Time Athletic, on a court that Anthony designed. Anthony and Ntilikina are represented by the same agency, CAA. Ntilikina also exchanged texts with Kristaps Porzingis, who welcomed him to the team.
Anthony’s future with the Knicks remains a big question mark, but the 18-year-old Ntilikina appears to be a part of the team’s future.
The Knicks and their fans will have to wait to see the French guard play live, though. He remains out with a bruised right knee and won’t play in the team’s summer league opener Saturday against the Mavericks.
Coach Jeff Hornacek said he hopes Ntilikina can get in “a game or two” before the Knicks head home. The Knicks will play five games here.
“It’s a little bit better,” Ntilikina said. “Got some shots early in the morning. I’m feeling good so far.”
Hours after the Knicks picked him No. 8, Ntilikina banged knees on a drive to the basket last week in Game 5 of the French League finals.
He tried to work out in their first summer league practice Wednesday but was limited and told to sit down. He was walking gingerly as he left the gym that day.
Ntilikina did some spot-up shooting Friday and didn’t appear to be limping when he walked out. He hopes to play tomorrow.
“I hope, I hope,” he said. “They’re doing the best — the trainers and medical staff — to make me better. And we’ll see.”
Because Ntilikina spent most of the pre-draft process in France, Hornacek has yet to see him play in person. He’s watched tape and liked what he saw.
“I think he’s got a good feel for the game,” Hornacek said. “He’s got long arms. He made passes from the point guard position that you want at the right time. It’s not like the guy was open and now he’s getting ready to throw it. He anticipated when a guy might be open and set his man up so he can create that space and make the pass, and I thought that was impressive, playing the point guard at such a young age.”
Ntilikina, who Hornacek said picks up things quickly, also has a sense of humor.
His name was misspelled on the Knicks practice jersey that he wore Wednesday. A picture of him stretching with “Ntilinka” scrawled above the No. 17 on his jersey was tweeted out. It’s been replaced and now has the correct spelling.
“Yeah, I saw it after in the media,” Ntilikina said. “It’s a funny story. We have to take it the funniest way. Now I have a good jersey, so it’s good.”