New York Knicks need to switch from Mitchell Robinson


Mitchell Robinson’s time in New York has passed.

Not long ago, Mitchell Robinson was envisioned as the future youth center of the New York Knicks.

The previous second-round pick could be all about defense. His rock formations are thunderous and Robinson is not down on the board either. Everyone falls under the spell of the young seven-legged, even yours indeed. I rewrote in 2019 how then 21 years old can be easy won Defensive Player of the Year award with a good season.

A third season after the pandemic and trauma, Mitchell Robinson is now more of a “what could happen” center than what could happen. His immense talent is often overshadowed by the latest injury or mental blunders on the pitch. His constant air conditioning problem removed him from the starting lineup this week.

Therefore, the New York Knicks have two options: They can offer Robinson a long-rumored extension and continue to hope he reaches his potential, or they can make the tough decision and look to add a player who can improve their painted presence right now.

Mitchell Robinson is not worth the headache anymore

As I write this, Robinson is having one of his worst performances of the season. Coming off the bench in Wednesday’s 122-102 loss to the Indiana Pacers, he had just four points and two rebounds and blocks each. Robinson also tried (and made) just one shot in his 19 minutes.

Now, to be fair to Mitchell Robinson, Wednesday’s game against the Pacers was the second half of a confrontation. In Tuesday’s win over the San Antonio Spurs, he really had a great game coming off the bench. In San Antonio, Robinson scored 11 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks in 22 minutes.

Wednesday’s clunker, however, is the latest chapter on the unreliable Robinson. Between his fragility, lack of conditioning, and inability to manufacture outside of the paintwork, he was practically a liability.

Knicks need a better center

All of this to be said, the New York Knicks can find their answer in the commercial market. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the very Pacers who just ignited the Knicks are inching toward rebuilding. Even better, it looks like Indiana is open to transferring one of the Domantas Sabonis or Myles Turner, the big stars of the team.

For context, the two combined for 43 points and 15 rebounds against the Knicks on Wednesday and collectively shot 15 of 21 from the field, plus 5 of 9 from three.

Now, see how the Knicks have struggled to defend centers that can stretch the floor in a number of losses this season. Chicago Bulls big man Nikola Vucevic tagged the Knicks with 27 points last week, including a third year. Two days later, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic scored 32 points at Madison Square Garden and sank for a third.

And who the New York Knicks have to show at the center? There’s Nerlens Noel, whose length gives great passive protection when he’s not dealing with his latest bump and/or bruise. Taj Gibson can still protect a rim, but he is 36 years old and has slowed down. Robinson’s talent is still remarkable, but we’ve just discussed how he might not be as reliable as first thought.

So what happens next?

All signs point to one truth: The New York Knicks simply had to make a deal. Just as having Derrick Rose boosted last year’s attack, Leon Rose and Scott Perry have done the same for defence this season.

And as ESNY’s own Little Danny Having said that, the Knicks have what it takes to make a deal for Myles Turner on several fronts:

It’s safe to assume that a deal for Myles Turner won’t come cheap. The good news for the Knicks is that they have a treasure trove of young players, veterans under flexible contracts and draft assets.

If they want to close a deal, they have ammo. It depends on Leon Rose and the rest of the front office to decide how much is too much for Turner.

Think about it. New York has the first two picks in next year’s NBA Draft, and has viable veterans like the aforementioned Alec Burks and Noel with pretty cheap signings. Also, even though he’s lagged behind this season, Robinson’s ceiling remains at a level that shows he’s also a pretty solid commercial chip. Remember, this is the same person who owns the record for the highest percentage of individual goals in a season.

One way or another, the NBA has grown to the point where a completely dominant center of paint color is a dying breed. If the New York Knicks are truly competitive all-around right now, this is the next phase of the team’s growth. An adult who can shoot is absolutely essential, if not absolutely necessary.

That means swallowing a lot of pride and acknowledging that Mitchell Robinson, once a young legend in the profession, may not be the guy. New York Knicks need to switch from Mitchell Robinson


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