GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Are the Knicks willing to reconsider their youth movement in order to get a talented point guard in the prime of his career?
A league source confirmed Monday that the team has spoken with the Phoenix Suns about a trade that would bring the disgruntled Eric Bledsoe to New York. According to the source, the Knicks reached out to the Suns about a week ago. A published report on Monday said the Suns have inquired about Willy Hernangomez and Frank Ntilikina, but the source said the Knicks at this point are not interested in including either in a trade for Bledsoe.
Bledsoe, who played for Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek for 2 1⁄2 seasons when Hornacek coached Phoenix, went public with his desire to leave the Suns on Sunday when he tweeted “I Don’t wanna be here.”
Hornacek had nothing but good things to say about the 27-year-old, who averaged 19 points per game over the past three seasons.
“Eric’s a great player,” Hornacek said on Monday. “He had a lot of success last year. He had a lot of success with us [in Phoenix]. I’m not over there, so I don’t know what’s going on.”
Knicks fans certainly are desperate to get some guard talent to pair with big man Kristaps Porzingis. It doesn’t seem as if Ntilikina, the eighth overall pick in the June draft, is ready to take on a prominent role anytime soon.
Ntilikina, who missed Saturday’s home opener with a left ankle sprain suffered in practice on Friday, sat out all but a few shooting drills Monday at practice and won’t play against the Celtics in Boston on Tuesday night, Hornacek said.
Ntilikina has battled through an array of injuries since the Knicks drafted him. He missed the entire summer league and played in only one of the team’s five preseason games because of a bruised right knee. Cleared to play in the Knicks’ season opener at Oklahoma City last Thursday, Ntilikina was used sparingly. In eight minutes against the Thunder, he had an assist and a turnover and air-balled his two shot attempts.
Hornacek said the organization isn’t worried about the slender Ntilikina being injury-prone. “He’s getting banged up and hurt because he’s playing hard,” he said. “He generally does go all out in scrimmage. It’s not like he’s trying not to get hurt. He’s playing as hard as he can. And so, a lot of guys kind of get banged up because they are playing hard. I can’t argue with that. I can’t complain about that.”
Hornacek said he hopes Ntilikina will get back on the practice floor this week and can play against the Nets on Friday. Though he did not practice with the team, he did shoot on his own Monday.
“He was moving pretty good, so I would anticipate next practice,” Hornacek said. “It’s probably more frustrating for him because he wants to be out there. He wants to be out there playing, he wants to prove himself. But injuries happen, ankle things, stuff like that, so he’s just got to battle through it and we’ve just got to be patient with that.”
With Al Iannazzone