Knicks Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Thunder; Gauging Frank Ntilikina Trade Rumors

Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina

The New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder will kick off Monday’s full slate of NBA games. The Knicks enter today’s contest on a five-game losing skid, while the Thunder are looking to snap out of a recent funk themselves. With a record of 10-34, it is clear that Head Coach David Fizdale is investigating which youngsters on his roster can help New York in the future.

Prior to Monday’s game, ESPN’s Ian Begley revealed that Fizdale is interesting in getting two of his younger big men more minutes over established veteran Enes Kanter.

With that change in the rotation in mind, here is a look at what the Knicks’ rotation will look like against the Thunder.

*Notates expected starter

PG: Emmanuel Mudiay*, Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke

SG: Tim Hardaway Jr.*, Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier, Courtney Lee

SF: Kevin Knox*, Mario Hezonja, Lance Thomas

PF: Noah Vonleh*

C: Luke Kornet*, Mitchell Robinson, Enes Kanter

Latest Frank Ntilikina Trade Rumors

The Knicks’ first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft appears to be on his way out of New York. Ntilikina, a 20-year-old French point guard, has been the subject of a wide range of trade rumors since the start of the regular season. Despite a bevy of gifts on the defensive end, Ntilikina has ceded time to Mudiay. It is clear that the Knicks are focused on making a splash in the summer of 2019, which could drive them to shed the $4.8 million that Ntilikina is owed for the 2019-20 season.

According to the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy, the Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns have expressed interest in acquiring Ntilikina. Along with those potential suitors, Bondy explained that the Knicks approached the Atlanta Hawks about a potential trade centered around their young point guard.

Despite the Knicks’ clear lack of confidence in Ntilikina, teams have inquired about the 20-year-old, with the Magic and Suns expressing interest, according to a source. And this is where it gets interesting. There seems to be a debate within the Knicks on whether to deal Ntilikina. He was drafted by Mills and has supporters in the front office. But, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, Perry, who took the job after Ntilikina was drafted, recently approached the Atlanta Hawks to gauge whether the team was interested in dealing for the guard (Hawks have Trae Young and weren’t interested).

Here are two Ntilikina-centered trade ideas that could work between the Knicks and interested parties.

All trades are verified through ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine.

Knicks receive: Elie Okobo (PG), Dragan Bender (F/C), a future second-round pick

Suns receive: Frank Ntilikina (PG)

This isn’t the flashiest trade, but it is functional for both sides. The Knicks receive a young point guard at a reduced salary in Okobo. New York would also get to see Bender up close for the final portion of the season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. In the end, this a way for the Knicks to get a look at two young players while also clearing valuable cap space.

For the Suns, Ntilikina’s upside on defense makes him an interesting fit alongside Devin Booker. From the first time he enters the lineup, Ntilikina could relieve Booker from tough defensive duties.

Knicks receive: Wesley Iwundu (SF), Khem Birch (C), a future first-round pick (lottery protected)

Magic receive: Frank Ntilikina (PG)

Once again, this isn’t going to move the needle for most fans in New York. The important thing is that the Knicks clear space, get a look at a pair of young players, and recoup a draft asset.

For the Magic, parting with a first-round pick could be tough to swallow. Ntilikina is potentially an ideal fit in Orlando. The Magic’s future is currently built around the ridiculous length of Jonathan Isaac and Mohamed Bamba. Adding Ntilikina to the mix would give Head Coach Steve Clifford an unreal amount of flexibility on defense.

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