With Dennis Smith Jr. out Monday night against the Bulls, David Fizdale has tapped Frank Ntilikina as the "next man up" and expects the point guard to see a jump in minutes.
"Next man up and that's Frank," Fizdale said at a press conference before the game. "Frank's been doing a great job of keeping himself prepared and ready for this. He'll get his feet wet tonight."
Although the circumstances for Smith Jr's absence are unfortunate--he suffered a loss of a family member last Saturday night--Knicks fans will surely rejoice at the upgrade in Ntilikina's minutes.
"WE WANT FRANK" chants for Ntilikina broke out at Madison Square Garden during the Knicks' loss to the Celtics Saturday night, as Smith Jr's shooting slump to start the season continued.
Through the first three games of the year, Ntilikina has only seen action in the season opener, playing three minutes against the Spurs and missing his only shot.
With Elfrid Payton starting at PG for the Knicks and Smith Jr. slated as his backup, Fizdale has had a hard time fitting Ntilikina into his rotation. But now with Smith Jr's absence for at least one game, Ntilikina will have an opportunity to break his way into that rotation if he plays well enough.
Fizdale noted that Smith Jr's return is "up to him" and that "obviously [the Knicks] want to get him back as soon as [they] can."