New York Post

Quite Frank-ly

Mills says he would’ve drafted Ntilikina, too

- By MARC BERMAN FRANK NTILIKINA Knicks top draft pick.

The Knicks’ new president Steve Mills didn’t take a lie detector test, but vowed he would have drafted point guard Frank Ntilikina with the eighth pick in last month’s NBA draft if he had final say.

Sources told The Post that Phil Jackson and his top advisor Clarence Gaines Jr. were hot and heavy for the 18-year-old Frenchman. Ntilikina didn’t play in the Orlando summer league because of a knee injury he suffered in the French league finals one day after the draft.

On the board when the Knicks came to bat on June 22 were N.C. State’s stud point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who lit up the Las Vegas summer league, Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell, who also excelled at summer league and Kentucky shooting guard Malik Monk. Jackson was fired four days after making the Ntilikina selection.

The Post reported Mills flew to France in late April to watch the 6-foot-5 Ntilikina, who has a 7-foot wingspan.

“I went over, I talked to our scouts a lot about Frank before the draft. I went over and watched Frank play prior to the draft, met with Frank’s coaches and learned a lot about who he is as a player and who he is as a person,’’ Mills said. “So I’m very comfortabl­e with that draft pick. I would have selected Frank at that point in the draft myself. He’s a guy that f its in everything that we’re talking about right now. He’s a smart basketball player. He focuses defensivel­y and his approach to the game, his work ethic, f it exactly in the direction that we want to take this team.’’

New Knicks general manager Scott Perry, working for Sacramento at the time, claimed he liked Ntilikina, too. The Kings tabbed point guard De’Aaron Fox at No. 5. Perry said the Knicks “need’’ to add a veteran at that position to serve as a mentor to Ntilikina.

“We didn’t think he was a 5, but we were very interested,’’ Perry noted on ESPN Radio on Monday.

The Knicks have just $1.5 million in cap room, but sources told The Post they would like to add veteran point guard via trade. The Post reported the Knicks inquired about Eric Bledsoe. According to a Phoenix radio station, the Suns countered with Brandon Knight.

Derrick Rose hasn’t signed, but he’s still looking for big money. A Carmelo Anthony trade would free up cap space.

“I think we need to — I’m going to continue to assess the roster,’’ Perry said. “I’m excited about young Frank, but also I think we’ll need some veteran guidance.”

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