Frank Ntilikina on Meeting Cuban, Mavs Interest & More

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 6: Frank Ntilikina
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 6: Frank Ntilikina /

Frank Ntilikina made his way to Dallas for the first time as a Knick and talked about meeting Cuban, the Mavs interest pre-draft and more.

Heading into the 2017 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks were connected to one prospect the most and it was almost overwhelming throughout the mock drafts.

It was Frank Ntilikina out of France.

The Mavericks need for a point guard combined with their elite international scouting, Ntilikina was the prospect connected to the Mavericks the most in almost every mock draft leading up to the draft in June.

Then, in early June, a picture surfaced on Twitter where the Mavs brass met with Ntilikina in Italy.

Mavericks General Manager, Donnie Nelson, was at the meeting also.

“Donnie was over there and watched a couple of his games. Him and Mark met with him. It was pretty well documented via Twitter pictures,” Rick Carlisle said pre-game about Ntilikina.

When Carlisle was asked about working out Ntilikina before the draft, he acknowledged they didn’t because of his basketball schedule.

“We didn’t because of his EuroLeague schedule,” Carlisle said. “We desperately wanted to.”

Even though the Knicks took Ntilikina with the pick before the Mavs at eight, Carlisle had praise for the rookie and his start to the season.

“I like him a lot. I like the way he competes. He is young and growing quickly. I love the consistency of his competitiveness. Defensively, he is really ahead of the curve as a rookie with his length and intensity and patience. I understand why New York drafted him at eight,” Carlisle said.

After the game, I caught up with Ntilikina to talk about meeting Cuban and the Mavs brass in Italy before the draft and if he thought Dallas would be an option for him on draft night.

“It was cool. It was my first meeting with an NBA team,” Ntilikina said about meeting them. “It was just getting to know me and see my personality a little more.”

When I followed up with if he thought he would be a Maverick on draft night, he acknowledged that it was pretty much two teams for him.

“Maybe. I knew the Knicks and the Mavs were the teams that were interested and in touch with my agent. I went to the Knicks and it is an honor for me. I am very happy to be a Knick,” Ntilikina said.

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This marked the first matchup with Dennis Smith Jr., but they rarely saw the court together. When they did, Ntilikina thought he did a pretty good job on him.

“We didn’t play one-on-one a lot during this game but when we did I think I did a good job containing him. He is very athletic…I think I did a pretty good job. I’m happy for it and I look forward to playing him again,” Ntilikina said.

Smith Jr. finished the night with 11 points and five assists in 25 minutes of play in the loss to the Knicks. Ntilikina finished the night with seven points, seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal in 25 minutes of play in the win over the Mavericks.

In facing Dirk Nowitzki for the first time in the NBA, it was a cool moment for the kid.

“Good, it was very good. Growing up watching international players, Dirk was uhhh I don’t even know. I even had the chance to go one time one-on-one against him. It is a good experience and I am thankful for it,” Ntilikina said.

Next: Why Rick Carlisle Was Right About ESPN, Ball

The Mavericks and Knicks are happy with their respected players, but the chances of them flip-flopping on draft night was probably closer than some think.