DALLAS - The start of training camp is approaching for teams around the NBA. While the main storyline around the league remains the Ben Simmons trade front, teams are looking to fill out training camp invites.
According to Marc Stein, the Mavericks have emerged as the 'most likely destination' for free-agent guard Frank Ntilikina.
Ntilikina, the No. 8 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, could not solidify himself as the long-term point guard answer during his four-year tenure with the New York Knicks.
The Mavericks made a point guard selection of their own during that draft. With Ntilikina off the board by the pick prior, Dallas selected Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 overall selection.
Neither Ntilikina nor Smith Jr. had successful tenures with their original NBA team. They are each looking to put together a strong training camp performance to earn a contract for the 2021-22 season.
There was speculation that Smith Jr. could receive a camp invite from the Mavericks, but instead, he received and accepted one from the Portland Trail Blazers.
Mavs Camp Profile: Tyrell Terry - ‘Take 2’
After experiencing a tough rookie season with little opportunity, Tyrell Terry should have more chances to make a name for himself with the Dallas Mavericks in Year 2.
Mavs’ Dorian Finney-Smith - ‘The Irritant’
In a contract season, Dorian Finney-Smith has a shot to earn a raise in free agency. Dallas Basketball provides statistics to explain his elevating on-court performance.
Mavs' Biggest Move? What About Bob?
Nico Harrison ultimately decided the Mavs’ “Director of Quantitative Research and Development” was no longer worth the trouble and turmoil.
Both Smith Jr. and Ntilikina were briefly teammates after the trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Mavericks. Neither managed to solidify themselves as an answer at point guard.
Last season, Ntilikina appeared in just 33 games and averaged a career-low 9.8 minutes per game. With Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley, and Elfrid Payton shouldering the majority of the guard rotation, there wasn't much room for Ntilikina.
Ntilikina is known for his on-ball defensive impact and has showcased some serious results at times. Standing at 6-foot-4 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, he has the length to disrupt most guards, which remains the top appeal for teams.
For Ntilikina, there have been concerns with his ability to produce offensively consistently. He has underachieved and failed to develop much as a threat throughout his tenure with the Knicks.
There was some speculation that a team like the Los Angeles Lakers could take a flier on Ntilikina. With the team having Russell Westbrook, having a defensive stopper to come off the bench at times could have been a helpful option.
Frank Ntilikina will need to earn his way onto the Mavericks' 15-man roster, and that won't be easy. Dallas already has 15 guaranteed contracts and has Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson, and Tyrell Terry on their depth chart at point guard.