Knicks ‘Uniquely Efficient’ Starter Remains Toughest Free-Agent Decision

Mitchell Robinson

Getty New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson defends a layup attempt from Jimmy Butler during a January 26 game against the Miami Heat.

Amidst a New York Knicks season that’s been full of disappointment, one narrative that’s been inescapable for fans is the future of starting center Mitchell Robinson.

The fourth-year big is averaging 8.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in 58 appearances this season.

But given the peculiarity of his contract situation, there’s a strong uncertainty surrounding any future that involves him playing in the Big Apple long-term.

Robinson will be made an unrestricted free agent, if he and the Knicks fail to agree on an extension by June 30th.

A proven starter when engaged and healthy, New York no doubt hopes to retain him moving forward.

But as Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes points out, Mitchell Robinson will be the toughest decision this summer for a New York Knicks front office already under scrutiny.

Hughes: Robinson is “a Uniquely Efficient Finisher”

In his latest column for Bleacher Report, Every NBA Team’s Toughest 2022 Free-Agency Decision, Grant Hughes explored the offseason headaches waiting for every team in free agency.

When it came to the New York Knicks, he turned to Mitchell Robinson’s looming payday; in the Big Apple, or elsewhere:

Hughes was very fair in his assessment, arguing that a deal only makes sense for both sides if reached at the right price.

But he started off by acknowledging the effectiveness with which Robinson operates within the post:

Robinson is a uniquely efficient finisher (whose range is, admittedly, “dunk”) who feasts on the offensive glass and blocks shots at elite rates. Those are worthwhile qualities, and they explain why the 23-year-old has been a regular starter when healthy over the last two seasons.

Yet in the same vein, he’s limited to that area, and almost that area entirely:

The downside: Robinson can’t switch and can’t space the floor (like, at all) on offense, which makes him exactly the type of center most smart teams avoid paying more than the minimum.

Hughes closed by isolating the reason for optimism for a lengthy career in this league for the 23-year old:

Perhaps Robinson has the potential to grow into a more dominant interior force who better controls the defensive glass and holds up more frequently on the perimeter. His length at least allows him to bother guards’ jumpers, and his relative youth could mean room for improvement still exists.

But as much as Mitchell Robinson and the New York Knicks may be a fit on the court, there’s a continued concern surrounding his off-the-court efforts to discredit the team.

Robinson Has a History of Social Media Unrest

Down three games to one in their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, the New York Knicks were definitely missing starting center Mitchell Robinson, who was out with a broken right foot.

And the 23-year old grew increasingly restless on the sidelines.

Robinson posted a brief highlight montage on Instagram following Game Four, from a January 21 win over the Golden State Warriors, captioned ‘Missing the fight’ with the praying hands emoji:

He also posted it to his Instagram story, making it just the latest in a series of cryptic postings.

And the week prior, Robinson posted this message on Instagram, seemingly begging to be brought back to the hardwood:

It sent fans into a spiral, wondering if Robinson was preparing to have his own “Willis Reed” moment.

But Game Two came and passed, and the center made no appearance.

The same can be said for Games Three through Five, where Atlanta won three straight and closed out the series.

One year later, despite making a firm comeback from the injury that kept him out of the postseason, Robinson’s still firing off shots on social media.

Following a February 27 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, in which he notably fouled out in the fourth quarter, he sent a few tweets in response to questions about his offensive versatility:

You’re unable to view this Post because this account owner limits who can view their Posts. Learn more

You’re unable to view this Post because this account owner limits who can view their Posts. Learn more

Mitchell Robinson and the New York Knicks have some things to figure out.

This summer, this month, this week, or perhaps even right now.

It’s better to strike the iron while it’s hot, as they say. And the 23-year old big man is definitely “fired up,” albeit equally off the floor as much as on it.

READ NEXT: Julius Randle’s Wife Rips Knicks Fans in Twitter Rant