The New York Knicks, at 8-17, are somehow only 3.5 games out of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, but there are few under any illusion that the Knicks are aiming for a playoff berth this season.
With Kristaps Porzingis still on the shelf and no timetable for his return this season, the Knicks are in the business of figuring out what pieces will work for new coach David Fizdale as they gear up for a very important offseason. New York will have plenty of cap space this summer to go after any number of major free agent targets, with Kevin Durant potentially being at the top of their wishlist. They also figure to find themselves in the lottery once again, and can hope to find their way into landing one of the top prospects available at the top of this year’s draft.
Given the expectation of adding pieces to start competing next year, the audition process this season is an expedited one, and it’s not always kind. Second-year point guard Frank Ntilikina is the latest casualty of Fizdale’s approach to rotations, playing the hot hand and rewarding those playing well with minutes (and those not playing well with time on the bench). Ntilikina went scoreless in back-to-back games for the Knicks and has since missed the last two games with DNP-CD’s while Emmanuel Mudiay has taken over the starting role.