Here’s the thing with Marc Berman “mouthpiece” articles. They’re seriously just repeating whatever he gets told at any given moment. The issue is that we never know if he’s being used to test the waters on a particular idea or if what he is repeating is actually what the Knicks are planning. I believe he has excellent sources (including almost certainly the President of the Knicks himself, Steve Mills), but you can never tell the agenda in which the sources tell him stuff. With Charley Rosen, it was a bit more direct. He was used as Phil Jackson’s way to explain himself without having to go on the record. When Phil was in charge, that was also how Mills used Berman (to point out stuff that Mills disagreed with that Phil was doing). Now that Mills is in charge, though, it is unclear how he is using Berman. Is this stuff legitimately what Mills is thinking or is it just throwing stuff out there to test the waters on stuff?
So keep those questions in mind when you read Berman’s latest piece on the Knicks, specifically the future of Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay.
Perhaps Ntilikina’s status as a future Knicks point guard was shattered Wednesday in Phoenix. Jason Kidd was summoned for the morning shootaround at Talking Stick Resort Arena and staged a 20-minute summit with Smith and fellow point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.
Ntilikina stood only 15 yards away — an afterthought. He was said to be too busy rehabbing. Ntilikina only exchanged greetings with Kidd. The incident was another indicator Fizdale views Ntilikina as an off-the-ball wing player.
According to a source, Knicks brass will explore their options on draft night with Ntilikina. Obviously, Ntilikina is available in any Anthony Davis package, but if the Knicks can acquire an extra first-round pick for him, they would consider it.
“The Knicks will be active on draft night,” one NBA source told The Post.
Some NBA sources believe Ntilikina has not been given a fair shake at point guard.
“Don’t they have to see what they have first?” one NBA source said. “If he turns into a bust as a lottery pick, fine. But they do not know that yet.”
See what I mean there? The “Ntilikina could net them a first round draft pick” is almost certainly Mills trying to put it out there that they’re looking for a first-rounder, but it also probably does mean that the Knicks are planning to move Frank. That’s not some shock, as Frank has been somehow worse in his second year on offense (and on defense!) than he was in his first season, but it’s still an insight.
Later, I think we get another legit insight into Mills’ thinking at the moment…
Fizdale has indicated when the 6-foot-6 Ntilikina returns, he mostly will play wing, even mentioning power forward. The Knicks are putting it all in Smith’s hands and still analyzing if they can re-sign Mudiay, a restricted free agent.
That doesn’t mean that they will bring Mudiay back (as it would be pretty difficult to find room for him under the cap), but it probably does suggest that the Knicks front office is still a fan of Mudiay (which also certainly matches everything else we’ve seen from them this season regarding Mudiay).
All in all, it was another interesting look into the mind of Steve Mills by Marc Berman.