Frank Ntilikina not worried about Knicks’ trade for point guard Emmanuel Mudiay
TORONTO — Frank Ntilikina doesn’t seem threatened by the Knicks’ acquisition of point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. The rookie said he looks forward to playing with him.
“We’re not competing against each other,” Ntilikina said. “We’re going to bring each other to the top to make the Knicks a competitive team. We can both play with the ball, we can both play off the ball, so it might be great for us.”
The Knicks acquired Mudiay from Denver on Thursday in a three-team trade that also included Dallas. Ntilikina called it “a good move.”
The initial reaction was that the Knicks already have a 6-5 point guard who isn’t a great shooter. Ntilikina, 19, has struggled offensively, shooting 35.2 percent overall and 32.2 percent from three-point range. But a source said the Knicks weren’t putting him in any deals.
“I feel like I’m good here and people want me here, so I’m happy about the situation,” Ntilikina said. “And I can’t wait to keep working on my game, taking time and being patient and be the best player I can be.”
It’s doubtful that Mudiay was brought in to take minutes away from Ntilikina. Veteran point guard Jarrett Jack is expected to play less, especially if the Knicks fall further in the standings, which is likely with Kristaps Porzingis sidelined for the season with a torn ACL. The Knicks will want to see more of Ntilikina, Mudiay and Trey Burke.
Jeff Hornacek said at some point this season, Ntilikina could become the starter. “It could be down the line,” he said. “We don’t know. We’ll see what happens in the next week or so. We’ll continue to monitor that.”
The Knicks eventually could waive Jack, 34, and allow him to join a contender. He will remain in his role as a starter for the time being and said he will accept a demotion if and when the Knicks go with a youth movement.
“I don’t really have another choice,” Jack said. “What other option do I have, anyway? But that’s where your professionalism comes into play.
“I’ve never been in that situation before where they just scrapped it and allowed guys to just play or allowed them to kind of evaluate guys with some in-game situations. But if that’s the case, you’ve only got one option, and that’s go out there and be professional.”