Strasbourg veteran Romeo Travis has given a ton of advice to his teammate of two seasons, Frank Ntilikina, even preaching to him the gospel of LeBron James.
Travis is James’ childhood friend from Akron, Ohio, and the former power forward on James’ renowned high school juggernaut, St. Vincent-St. Mary.
Yes, Ntilikina, who will wear a Knicks jersey for the first time Wednesday at their first summer-league practice in Orlando, has asked the 32-year-old Travis about James. A lot.
“He’s asked a lot of general questions,’’ Travis told The Post on his return to Ohio from France after Strasbourg lost the French league championship last Friday in the decisive Game 5.
“Does he work hard? Stuff like that. I tell him he’s one of the hardest-working person I’ve ever seen. When he has an off-court engagement, he brings a personal trainer with him, meal plan prepared by chefs. He’s like, ‘I have stuff to do off the court, but I’m going to take care of what gets me there.’ That’s what I told Frank. But Frank already works very hard.’’
Travis, who said he is in frequent communication with James, played against Ntilikina’s new teammate, Carmelo Anthony, in high school when St. Vincent-St. Mary faced Anthony’s Oak Hill Academy team. Travis hopes sooner than later James finally gets to be teammates with his buddy from the Knicks.
Travis, who has played in eight different countries, and the on-the-block Anthony are only acquaintances, but he has followed Anthony’s career closely.
“I love Melo’s game, love his demeanor off the court and his professionalism, the way he’s handled [the Phil Jackson] situation,’’ Romeo said. “He can help the Cavs just because he’s similar to Draymond Green. He doesn’t play like Draymond, but he can make Draymond neutralized. He’s also big and also physical. The things Draymond does well, Carmelo can alleviate that.’’
With Anthony telling Jackson he would like to stay a Knick (he has a no-trade clause), the Knicks president may have to take the last resort and waive Anthony, perhaps using the stretch provision that would add $15 million of cap space in July.
“I don’t know how Carmelo can go to any team and not be a good addition — he’s still a great scorer,’’ Travis said. “I think he’ll be more efficient with better players around him because he won’t have to do as much. His efficiency will go up like when he was young and in Denver when he played really well and more efficient. That’s his biggest problem: Sometimes he has to do too much because of the way the Knicks roster is situated.’’
Ntilikina flew from France straight to Orlando after his whirlwind week. After flying in to the New York area after Game 4 last week for the draft, Ntilikina was on a charter flight back to France in time for Game 5, hours after getting selected by the Knicks at No. 8. Despite being jet-lagged, Ntilikina played well in the Game 5 loss to Chalon, scoring nine points, shooting 4-of-6 and registering a plus-3 in a nine-point loss.
His teammates were appreciative, even though he missed three practices leading up to Game 5. Travis revealed Ntilikina wanted to stay.
“He played well, helped the team,’’ Travis said. “We obviously didn’t win, but he came back and contributed. Everything worked out great for him. He went, lived his dream of getting drafted and came back for the championship. He was more relieved. He had that stress about the whole situation. He wanted to make everyone happy. He was thinking about not going to the draft, but it was important to his family.’’
Romeo was set to retire if Strasbourg won the title, but said he “can’t end with that taste in my mouth.’’
Meanwhile, James and Ntilikina have one thing in common: They both lost in the finals.
“He’ll be ultra-motivated, but honestly, what more can he do?’’ Travis said of James. “There’s only so much more one person can do. Everybody on the team could’ve played better of course, but not much more he could’ve done individually.’’