The Knicks will shut down Frank Ntilikina for the rest of the season after he re-aggravated his groin injury last Sunday, the team announced.
Ntilikina, the second-year guard out of France, returned from a 24-game absence on Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers, but left the game after suffering a setback. A few more tests showed the Knicks that he should be shut down.
"I re-aggravated progressively again," Ntilikina told the media at practice Friday. "I kinda felt something before the game and this is how it happened. So after the game it was pretty sore too. Made a couple of more tests and the medical staff, which is trying to do the best for me and my health, recommended I take it easy."
The Knicks were really hoping to see Ntilikina end the season on a high note, but this has simply been the theme of his sophomore season. Despite the struggles, though, the 20-year-old is remaining positive, as he looks to get healthy for summer workouts.
"I gotta stay positive, I gotta stay on top of it," he said. "My mindset's gotta be to come in here everyday and do everything to be back healthy as soon as possible to win some time in the summer to work on my abilities to get back even better next season."
As head coach David Fizdale has been saying basically all season, "it's frustrating obviously" that Ntilikina hasn't been able to develop the way the team envisioned. And with that, rumors have been swirling that the Knicks want to shop him this offseason due to the logjam of guards on the roster.
But, if there's one thing working in Ntilikina's favor, it's his versatility -- an intangible skill Fizdale says is vital for his roster.
"I don't see a position. That's why I keep stressing Frank does everything for me," Fizdale said. "That's why he's so important. He can play point guard, two-guard, or three and he can guard multiple positions. We just don't have a lot of those on this team."
So Fiz sees Ntilikina as a piece to continue possessing during this rebuild?
"Yeah," he said. "He's on our roster, isn't he?"
Ntilikina, whom New York drafted eighth overall in 2017, averaged 5.7 points and 2.8 assists in 43 games this season, one year after averaging 5.9 points and 3.2 assists in 78 games.
According to Basketball-Reference, Ntilikina's offensive rating per 100 possessions decreased from 89 to 88 from Year 1 to Year 2, however his defensive rating increased from 112 to 116.
Though he didn't see the playing time he would have liked, Ntilikina didn't waste his time off the court.
"It's part of the game. Injuries happen in the life of an athlete," he said. "Of course, it's never good that an injury happens. But I did everything I could've done on the side which is watch a lot of film, work on my mentality, do everything that I wasn't able to do on the court. So I think I still grew a lot as a player and as a person."