According to ESPN’s Ian Begley and later confirmed by Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro, the Suns are entertaining the possibility of adding Frank Ntilikina via trade.
Phoenix is among the teams who reached out to NYK to express interest in Frank Ntilikina. When PHO contacted NYK earlier in the year, NYK said it wasn’t open to moving Ntilikina, per ESPN sources. Some w/Suns were intrigued w/idea of pairing Ntilikina & Devin Booker, per sources— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) November 30, 2018
Over his past nine games, Ntilikina has fallen out of favor with David Fizdale, averaging only 3.7 points, 1.4 assists and 0.1 steals during his 18.8 minutes. The concerning area with the 6’5” point guard out of France, though, is his shooting ability. During this same nine-game timeframe, Ntilikina shot only 30.2 percent, including 16.7 percent on three-pointers.
Gambadoro later reported on the air during Friday’s episode of Burns & Gambo that all it would take for the Suns to obtain Ntilikina was offering up the future first-round pick from Milwaukee. This pick acquired from the Eric Bledsoe trade likely wouldn’t convey until 2020, and in all likelihood it will be a pick between the 25-30 range with the way they’re currently set up around Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Throw in a salary like Dragan Bender or Troy Daniels with the pick, then it sounds like it would be a done deal from the Knicks’ point of view as they look to clear cap space to not only sign Kevin Durant but also bring another name with him to pair next to Kristaps Porzingis.
Personally, I would do this deal even over one like Markelle Fultz. The reason being is due to Ntilkina’s fit next to Devin Booker between now and 2020. Ntilikina has the ideal frame, including an eye-popping 7’1” wingspan, to play combo guard with Booker while also setting up the likes of Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, T.J. Warren, and Josh Jackson when playmaking opportunities are presented.
Drafted in the same class names like Fultz, Jackson, and Lonzo Ball, Ntilikina’s contract would be an 18-month test trial if it doesn’t work out in Phoenix. His salary for 2019-20 is $4.9 million, while it rises to a still reasonable $6.2 million in 2020-21 for the all-important fourth-year option decision.
On the surface, targeting a defensive-minded guard shouldn’t be a surprise. During the Bledsoe fiasco last season, former general manager Ryan McDonough originally wanted Malcolm Brogdon before settling on Greg Monroe and the likely 2020 first-rounder. Ntilikina, outside of his disastrous shooting splits, fits even better than a player like Brogdon would, if all went well with his development over the next year.
Ntilikina and Bridges would be great defensive presences when on the court with score-first players in Booker and Ayton. Both of their condor-like wingspans would make up for any mishaps made on the wing when in switching situations. And with the Knicks’ point guard still only 20 years old, he fits right into Phoenix’s age timeline coinciding with their young core (Ayton - 20, Ntilikina - 20, Jackson - 21, Booker - 22, Bridges - 22).
By the way, if you need further selling on why Ntilikina would be a great fit within Phoenix’s current ecosystem surrounding Booker and Ayton, check out this video breakdown from Knicks Film School. In a one-on-one matchup earlier this season, Ntilikina put the clamps on Trae Young while flashing his All-NBA Defensive 1st-Team upside.
If all it takes is something like Daniels/Bender plus the Bucks pick, interim general manager James Jones should roll the dice on Ntilikina. If anything, the former lottery selection will help bolster a defense lacking pure pitbull-like on-ball defenders. Trotting out a lineup featuring Ntilikina, Bridges, and Jackson would not be lacking on defensive energy and lack, that’s for sure.
Should the Suns trade the Bucks pick for Frank Ntilikina
This poll is closed
Yes, worth the risk
No, wait for better options