Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina will miss the final seven games of the season with a groin injury, the team announced Friday.
That’s hardly groundbreaking news for a player who had an injury-plagued and ineffective season, for a team that will likely finish with the worst record in the NBA. But it raises questions about Ntilikina’s future with the Knicks, the team that drafted him No. 8 overall in 2017.
The 6-6 guard played in only 43 games this season, and had missed 24 outings with a groin pull before returning to action last Friday. But he re-aggravated the injury Sunday against the Clippers and the team’s training staff recommended he be shut down.
Coach David Fizdale told reporters no surgery is in the plans for now.
“It’s frustrating obviously — more for him than anybody,” Fizdale said (via the New York Post). “We would’ve loved to have those minutes for him to log in and help his player development. The kid is 20 years old. He’s going to have a great summer, get him healed up and get him ready for next year.”
Ntilikina has averaged 5.7 points and 2.8 assists in 21 minutes per game, but he shot just 33.7 percent from field. And the acquisition of point guard Dennis Smith Jr. in the Kristaps Porzingis trade in January had already thrown his future with the Knicks into question. The Post reports the Knicks will “explore their options on draft night in June” and the “organization clearly is no longer committed to the Frenchman as their point guard of the future after being drafted eighth by former president Phil Jackson.”
But Fizdale praised Ntilikina’s work ethic.
“Physically he was totally prepared for this year,” Fizdale said. “That’s why I felt totally comfortable putting him on different people. He really put a lot into his body this summer. This kid, I feel really bad for him. He’s one of our hardest workers.”