Knicks' Ntilikina not happy about Christmas Day benching

Colton Jones

Among those who sat and watched the New York Knicks bow to the Milwaukee Bucks, 109-95, on Tuesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden was Frank Ntilikina.

The backup point guard did not get off the bench in the loss, not being called on by first-year New York coach David Fizdale, and was not pleased about it, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“Did I know that I would not play today?” Ntilikina told reporters after the game. “Coach makes his decision during the game. So you don’t know. You know that, right?”

The DNP-CD stung even more for Ntilikina, whose mother flew into New York from France to watch him play. Instead, she saw Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay turn the basketball over five times and Trey Burke register a 1-for-7 shooting performance.

Fizdale told reporters postgame that Ntilikina had been “struggling,” adding he wanted to play Burke, who has been working his way back from a strained knee, more.

Not that Ntilikina has been playing well, of late. In the previous five games, he averaged 3.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists, shooting an abysmal 21.4 percent from the field and an even-worse 18.2 percent from deep.

For the season, Ntilikina is averaging 6.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 22.1 minutes in 31 games (14 starts), shooting 34.6 percent from the field, 29.0 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 80.8 percent from the free-throw line.

Earlier this month, Ntilikina did not play in three consecutive games. He said he has no idea how long his pine-riding will last this time.

“I don’t know how long it will be [this time],” Ntilikina said. “I can’t predict each and every game in the future. One thing I can do is get ready for each and every one — which I will do. Practice hard, get ready physically and mentally for the next game.”

While Ntilikina is the only New York point guard under contract for next season, Mudiay will be a restricted free agent in July and Burke's $1.8 million contract for this season will not become fully guaranteed until January.

Ntilikina, 20, was the eighth overall selection in the 2017 NBA draft by the Knicks.