Frank Ntilikina has had to spend much of the season working out after the rest of the Knicks practiced to keep himself sharp. That is due to either the sprained knee that sidelined him for much of the first half of the season or simply from being buried at the end of the bench.
But nothing prepared him for how he spent a week recently, confined to a hotel room in Miami alone, waiting for clearance from the NBA’s health and safety protocols to join his teammates. An exercise bicycle was brought in, but there were no shots put up, no scrimmaging or coaches to work out with as he waited.
"It was definitely not the best, but it was probably for everybody’s health," Ntilikina said on Sunday. "Definitely staying in the room and staying back in Miami when the team kept on traveling, kept on playing, was not the best. But I did my best to just do some exercises in the room. I couldn’t do much. Tried to stay locked, stay focused on the season and on every goal."
Ntilikina has appeared in only four games this season for a total of 42 minutes, and hasn’t seen the floor in a game since Dec. 29. He was inactive with a sprained right knee after that game until Jan. 24. Then for eight games he was on the active roster, in uniform, but never got in a game.
"Just stay ready, improve, keep on improving," Ntilikina said." When I’m not on that court what I can do is make sure I practice, work out a lot, stay on top of my shape and actually get better. Not just stay ready but get better. Use that time to learn new things and get better as a player.
"There’s a lot of stuff you can do on the court still, a lot of stuff you can learn watching film, watching also what’s going on the court and also on the side. Definitely, I won’t take that time and waste it. I’m going to take advantage of everything, every opportunity, take full advantage of every day."
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was asked if the team had considered sending Ntilikina to the G League to get in-game work.
"No, not yet," Thibodeau said. "I think we’ll take a look at it as we go. I like Frank being here. He’s done an excellent job. He’s got a great attitude, great approach. And even though he’s not playing he’s adding a lot to our team right now."
Notes & quotes: Austin Rivers was unavailable Sunday (illness).