Frank Ntilikina hasn’t played in three games for the New York Knicks, but that’s likely to change as David Fizdale plans to use him soon.
While some took this as a sign that the Knicks are ready to move on from Ntilikina, that’s not the message David Fizdale is sending. He contemplated putting Ntilikina in Thursday night’s game against the Boston Celtics. But he didn’t want to throw him out there for garbage time.
“I did not want to put him in in garbage time,’’ Fizdale said to Marc Berman of the New York Post after Friday’s practice. “Cause I still see him, even though there is so many minutes in a game, as a player, I still see Frank as a rotation player. I didn’t want to do that to him. He was right there on my mind, even to put him into the real action. And he still is.”
Everyone seems to have an opinion on what Ntilikina’s benching means. But many are overlooking the fact that Fizdale has used this approach with several different players this season.
Damyean Dotson found himself on the outside of the rotation multiple times this season. He found his way back into the lineup and into a prominent role both times. Trey Burke was pulled from the lineup in multiple games earlier this season. He was able to secure a role in the rotation once again. Even Emmanuel Mudiay had to earn his keep when he slowly made his way back from injury at the beginning of the season.
“No one is ever buried on our team,’’ Fizdale said. “It’s just one quick decision away from getting him in the mix. He had a heck of a practice today and you will be seeing Frank on the court sometime soon.’’
It’s clear that Ntilikina will have another shot sooner or later. What he does with that opportunity remains to be seen.