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LeBron James redirects blast from Ntilikina to Phil Jackson

LeBron James has redirected the dagger.

Before the Cavaliers held a shootaround Monday morning at the Garden, James clarified his take that the Knicks should have drafted Dennis Smith Jr., saying it wasn’t a shot at Frank Ntilikina but instead Phil Jackson.

“I wasn’t throwing shade at Frank at all, for people that got their pants in bunches and things of that nature here in New York, that look for any controversy here,” James said. “I was basically stating what I saw in Dennis Smith and what I saw from him coming out and watching the draft. I thought that he would be a great fit here with [Kristaps] Porzingis. That’s not saying Frank won’t be a great fit. I haven’t seen much of him.”

James first made headlines with his opinion Saturday night after facing the Mavericks and Smith, who scored 21 points to go with seven assists. On Monday, he downplayed the comment but not before he was asked if it should be taken as a shot at Jackson.

“It’s definitely a shot at him, that’s for sure,” James said. “I wasn’t even thinking about [Ntilikina] when I was talking about Dennis Smith. I was talking about just the Knicks organization and Phil Jackson at the time and Dennis Smith’s talent and Porzingis. That’s all I was thinking about.”

James and Jackson clashed last year after the then-Knicks president characterized James’ business partners as his “posse.” The four-time MVP reiterated his dislike for Jackson on Monday while talking about how things played out during the offseason, with Jackson getting fired and Carmelo Anthony being traded away during camp.

“Phil was just a small piece – well, he was a big piece of it, actually,” James said. “… We all know how they handled the Carmelo situation, but I’m not a fan of Phil Jackson. I think you guys already know that. That’s the past though. He’s not even here anymore.”

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But Ntilikina is. The Knicks rookie shrugged off James’ pick as pretend-GM on Sunday before the superstar took a deeper dive on why he said what he said.

James, who has known Smith since the ex-N.C. State point guard was 14 and trained with him in his hometown of Akron, pointed to the rookie’s athleticism and playmaking ability. He likened it to saying the Browns should have drafted Deshaun Watson to be their quarterback, which he said doesn’t insinuate that Myles Garrett, whom the Browns drafted instead, won’t be a great player.

“When I was watching the draft, I thought [the Knicks] were going to pick [Smith],” James said. “I talked about it with people that know the game. I know what Dennis Smith is capable of doing. I knew the Knicks have been looking for a point guard. Am I stating things that are false? No. These are facts, right?

“I thought they would pick him and they didn’t. It’s no shade at Frank. I don’t even know the kid.”

Through 12 games, Smith is averaging 14.8 points, 4.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds and one steal per game. Ntilikina, meanwhile, has averaged only 4.4 points through 10 games but has dished out five assists a night and has been coming on of late.

Before James was done, he went out of his way for one last shot at Enes Kanter, who immediately backed up Ntilikina on social media and even more at Sunday’s practice.

“It’s not you s–ting on the next guy. It’s just that you’re stating what you see,” James said, finishing up his analogy to Watson and Garrett. “All that is clarification for people who just live in the box and for Enes Kanter, who [has] always got something to say. He says – I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”

Source: http://nypost.com/2017/11/13/lebron-james-redirects-blast-from-ntilikina-to-phil-jackson/

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