Playoff Contender Could Steal Starter from Knicks: Report

Mitchell Robinson free agency rumors

Getty New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson.

Given all that has gone wrong for the New York Knicks throughout the 2021-22 campaign, it can be difficult to recognize the handful of things that are going right. And, make no mistake about it, there have been some positive developments in the Big Apple.

Over the last several weeks, for example, former No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett has had multiple games where he has looked every bit of the potential franchise player the Knicks thought they were getting when they drafted him.

However, Mitchell Robinson’s efforts warrant special mention as well. While he still has some growing to do — and he has also been saddled with anchoring the paint for a defensively challenged starting five — the 23-year-old is earning himself boo koo bucks with his play this season.

Since January 8, the 23-year-old has averaged 13.3 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes.

Alas, Robinson may be playing his way right out of NYC. According to one Knicks insider, he’ll have a slew of suitors when he hits unrestricted free agency this summer.

Popper Namechecks Three Teams That Could Make a Play

In a weekend column for Newsday, Gotham hoops guru Steve Popper explored Robinson’s situation with the Knicks. According to his sources, an Eastern Conference rival and two Western Conference foes could be on the hunt for his services.

“An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, he has hesitated to sign an extension before free agency starts and figures to have suitors among the Pistons, the Thunder and, if they can work the cap space, the Mavericks,” wrote Popper

The Knicks could have made Robinson a restricted free agent over the summer and actually maintained a measure of control in his dealings by declining a team option. Instead, they elected to pick up the fourth year of his deal and keep him on board at a minimum salary.

While the move saved New York some money this season, it may just end up costing the club Robinson this summer.

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Is Robinson Gone No Matter What?

For his part, Popper opined that the Knicks have a decision to make regarding whether or not Robinsion is actually worth a deal paying him eight figures annually, writing:

The Knicks will have to decide just how valuable the rim-protecting center is, particularly with Barrett eligible for an expensive extension, on a roster that already has Sims and Nerlens Noel, similarly athletic defenders around the rim with similar limitations offensively.

While the situations he mentioned with Barrett and the team’s other bigs are real things, it may just be Robinson, not the Knicks, who ultimately makes the call here.

If he’s already “hesitant” to sign an extension that could pay him up to $55-plus million over four years, the baller may already be eyeing a new hardwood home.


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