The once longest-tenured Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina has signed a deal this week to join Reggie Bullock and the Mavericks.
The Dallas Mavericks have signed former New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina, the team announced yesterday. Marc Stein was the first to report the sides were making progress on a deal, and on Friday he reported it’s a two-year contract with a team option in year two.
The Dallas Mavericks have signed Frank Ntilikina.
After four seasons with the Knicks, Ntilikina holds career averages of 5.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists in 211 games (55 starts).
The Mavericks roster now stands at 20 players. pic.twitter.com/eVQ2MjUF3i
— Mavs PR (@MavsPR) September 17, 2021
Ntilikina, 23, was the Knicks’ longest-tenured player after he was selected eighth overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. New York would take Ntilikina over then-NC State point guard Dennis Smith Jr., selected by Dallas at no. 9. Smith Jr. came to New York in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, and now Ntilikina will be a Maverick.
Once represented by then-CAA agent, now Knicks president Leon Rose, Ntilikina joins Reggie Bullock as a pair of former Knicks with the Mavs this upcoming season. Bullock agreed to a sign-and-trade to Dallas earlier in the offseason, with the Knicks sending their starting swingman to the Western Conference with a three-year, $30.5 million contract.
This week closed the Ntilikina chapter for the Knicks. The French guard came to the states as a teenager, overwhelmed by New York and the pressures of playing here. There were fun moments, of course, chief among them were when Ntilikina came up clutch with defensive stops, maybe a timely three-pointer. But all of those happened when the Knicks were bad and were not competing seriously.
When the Knicks turned things around this past season under Tom Thibodeau, Ntilikina could not find steady work, even advertised as a defensive ace. He only appeared in 33 regular-season games, shooting 23-for-48 (47.9%) from three. Ntilikina bridged the gap between the Carmelo Anthony era (selected the summer they traded away ‘Melo), to the Porzingis era, and finally the respectable Thibodeau–Julius Randle one we are inhabiting.
Many words have been spent on this site describing Ntilikina’s potential role or way to shape up, but ultimately it was never right in New York. Should Ntilikina succeed in the NBA, it was always going to be with another team. No amount of debating him and Dennis Smith Jr. or maybe switching to off-ball could restore the feeling that he was the right pick in 2017—or that the Knicks (or Phil Jackson) knew what they were doing back then.