Speaking to reporters at Madison Square Garden two days after he said NY goofed by not drafting Dennis Smith Jr., who plays for the Mavericks, James confirmed what many initially suspected: His comments were targeted at former Knicks president Phil Jackson, not Ntilikina.
James also said he doesn't have any issues with the Knicks' organization. "I don't even know the kid", James said at the Cavaliers' shootaround before their game against the Knicks.
It didn't take much time at all for Knicks center Enes Kanter to jump to the defense of the player whom NY opted to select at No. 8 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft: Frank Ntilikina. "It's the best for our league". Kristaps Porzingis told reporters, "I would not change Frank for anybody".
LeBron James and the Cavs, in town to play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, hopped on the subway from Penn Station back to their hotel after practice Monday morning. Some in the Knicks' organization had interest in drafting Smith, who canceled a scheduled pre-draft workout with NY. We're competitors and we try to get all the wins we can get. "And I believe the only reason he used that word is because he sees young African-Americans trying to make a difference".
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"It's the same if I, I mean, I think DeShaun Watson should be a Brown", James said of the Houston Texans QB, who was selected at No. 12 with a pick acquired from Cleveland in a trade. "I don't care what people say". "I'm just focused about the team, focused about us and we are just 100 percent motivated every game day ... so it's not affecting us".
Through 10 games, Ntilikina is averaging 4.4 points, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 34.0 percent from the field.
"I had nothing but respect for him as a coach for what he was able to do", James said at the time. "I have to prove to the team", Ntilikina said.