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Knicks Rumors: 'The Sense Is' Leon Rose Wants Ntilikina to Be a 'Valuable Piece'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2020

New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina handles the ball in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Friday, March 6, 2020, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Thunder won 126-103. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Despite turning in three straight disappointing seasons to begin his NBA career, Frank Ntilikina is reportedly still part of the New York Knicks' plans.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported new president of basketball operations Leon Rose sees Ntilikina developing into a "valuable piece." Rose was Ntilikina's first agent as an NBA player before being fired in 2019. It appears any wounded feelings have been healed based on Rose and Ntilikina's public comments about one another. 

“I know Leon — very professional in what he does. He’s a good guy. We can trust him, I think,” Ntilikina told reporters in March. “We all want what’s the best for the team. So we all are moving in the same direction. Leon is an expert in his job. He knows what he’s doing. He was a great agent and I’m sure he’s going to do great things here.”

Rose told MSG Network he thinks Ntilikina can "really prosper" in the right situation.

Selected eighth in the 2017 NBA draft (five spots ahead of Donovan Mitchell and six before Bam Adebayo), Ntilikina has struggled to find his footing stateside. The Frenchman has been among the worst offensive rotation players in basketball, shooting 36.6 percent for his career and struggling to develop as a playmaker. 

While Ntilikina is a strong defender who can guard multiple positions due to his seven-foot wingspan, it's been tough to keep him on the floor in high-leverage situations due to his offensive woes. 

That said, Ntilikina is among the best fits on the roster for the defensive-minded Tom Thibodeau, widely viewed as the favorite for the Knicks head coaching job. Thibodeau and Rose have a friendship spanning two decades. Ntilikina is the type of wing defender who can thrive under Thibodeau, who is renowned for his defensive acumen and ability to coach up players on the fringe. 

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