Carmelo Anthony Confirms Knicks ‘Mad They Couldn’t Trade’ Injured Big Man

Ex-Knicks star Carmelo Anthony

Getty Former New York Knicks player Carmelo Anthony attends game two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden.

Former New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony put oft-injured center Mitchell Robinson on notice, revealing frustrations within the team’s organization.

“I know the Knicks are mad that they couldn’t trade him before the trade deadline,” Joe Budden said on the “7 PM in Brooklyn with Carmelo Anthony and Kid Mero” podcast on February 22.

“That’s a fact,” Anthony quickly added, confirming Budden’s intel on the Knicks starting center.

Robinson has been out since suffering a left ankle sprain on December 8 against the Boston Celtics, which later required surgery. But the Knicks have stayed afloat because of backup Isaiah Hartenstein’s growth into a starting-caliber center.

They are 23-15 since Robinson’s injury.

Anthony said the Knicks have a tough decision to make in the offseason, choosing who to keep between Robinson and his backup Isaiah Hartenstein, who will become an unrestricted free agent.

“You got to pay him,” Anthony said of Hartenstein. “You got to make a decision with Mitchell Robinson. “I mean like you got to pay [Hartenstein]. New York needs that energy. He’s worth it though like you can’t find a fine center like that today.”

Hartenstein averaged 10.4 rebounds, 8.0 points, 2.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks in 32 games without Robinson this season.

Mitchell Robinson’s Health

The 25-year-old Robinson is in the second year of a $60 million, four-year contract. Hartenstein could be looking at that type of money in the offseason with teams who will have salary cap space like the Utah Jazz noticing his marked improvement.

After playing all 72 regular-season games in the COVID-19 protracted 2020-21 season, Robinson has already missed a combined 51 games and still counting over the last two seasons. In contrast, Hartenstein played all 82 games last season and has played in 53 of the Knicks’ first 59 games this season.

But Robinson returned from a thumb injury in the middle of last season to become the Knicks’ X-Factor in their opening-round win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. Then Bam Adebayo dominated him in the next round.

Mitchell Robinson Pressured to Deliver

After the Knicks traded for veterans to bolster their roster around their All-Star duo of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, Anthony said they would need Robinson to be healthy and raise his level of play.

“You’re putting the pressure on Mitch,” Anthony said. “You got to lock the [expletive] in, Mitch with this [expletive] that we have. I need you to go be the Defensive Player of the Year, shot blocker. I need that Mitch in order for us to be successful, right? We got the pieces but Mitch, you got to hold this [expletive] down like you got to take the game seriously.

It’s winning time!”

Robinson, the longest-tenured player on the Knicks roster, was having a career season before he went down with the ankle injury. He leads the league in offensive rebounding this season with 5.3 per game. In 21 games, he averaged a career-high 10.3 rebounds along with 6.2 points on 59% shooting, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau recently shared that Robinson is no longer wearing a protective boot and has started doing individual workouts.

“It’s just a steady progression,” Thibodeau said on February 20 via SNY. “The boot is off and he can shoot, he’s not running and jumping yet, but he can shoot on the court. He’s in the pool, he’s on the bike, and he’s doing all those things. Each week will be another step for him to clear. When he’s ready, he’s ready.”


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