Brooklyn Nets rumors: Interest in Frank Ntilikina … or not

Brooklyn Nets rumors Frank Ntilikina. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets rumors Frank Ntilikina. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets rumors buzzed Sunday with conflicting reports over the Nets’ interest in recently benched New York Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina.

The Brooklyn Nets rumors were all over the map Sunday amidst conflicting reports that the Nets were either very interested … or not at all interested … in 20-year-old New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina.

According to ESPN’s Ian Begley, the Nets expressed interest in Ntilikina, the second-year player from France who started the first 14 games of the season for New York before being moved to the second unit, then took a DNP-CD in Saturday’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden.

But according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, Brooklyn has no interest in the 6-foot-5, 190-pounder with the 7-foot-1 wingspan and the extremely raw offensive game.

Here are those reports:

So it’s basically as clear as mud.

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It would make sense a team such as the Phoenix Suns would inquire about Ntilikina. The Suns have been going with Devon Booker at the point of late and waived Isaiah Canaan, who started 15 games at the position earlier this season, on Wednesday.

Booker came into Sunday’s blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers nursing a sore toe before leaving the game in the second quarter after injuring his left hamstring.

Ntilikina was the eighth overall pick by the Knicks in the 2017 NBA Draft, but that was under a previous administration. Coach David Fizdale, in his first year with New York, has been all over the place with his point guard rotation between Trey Burke, Emmanuel Mudiay and Ntilikina.

Even when Burke left Saturday’s game with a sprained right knee, Ntilikina didn’t get off the bench. Besides the point, Ntilikina has spent significant time this season at the off guard spot.

Honestly, it seems a bit odd that the Nets would have interest in a guy like Ntilikina, who while showing a lot of defensive potential has not exhibited much offensive acumen at all.

This season, he is averaging 5.9 points and 2.7 assists in 23.1 minutes per game on .333/.257/15-for-16 shooting and as a rookie put up 5.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 21.9 minutes a night while shooting slightly better at .364/.318/.721.]

Nothing about those shooting lines screams that he would be a fit for a pace-and-space system.

Ntilikina is of Rwandan descent and was born in Belgium before growing up in France. He spent parts of seasons with Strasbourg IG in France’s Jeep Elite League, where he wasn’t a particularly adept offensive player.

In his final season in France, 2016-17, Ntilikina played in 60 games in domestic and Basketball Champions League action and averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per game.

But his quickness and athleticism made him an enticing prospect with potential when he entered the draft in 2017, but there were red flags about his shooting mechanics.

DraftExpress noted he should get his point guard indoctrination in the NBA G League and be used off the ball at the NBA level, but the Knicks played him at the point for 78 games last season, including nine starts, and he never was assigned to their Westchester affiliate in the G League.

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The bottom line is that it is much more likely the Brooklyn Nets would take a hard pass on Ntilikina, at least until he has something that passes for a jump shot.