While New York Knicks fans are currently in a tizzy over the team’s point guard position — and, specifically, whether Leon Rose can get Donovan Mitchell or Jalen Brunson in there to rejuvenate it — there are other issues to contend with this offseason.
Mitchell Robinson’s future in the Big Apple is a huge one, as the club weighs whether to dole out a big-time contract extension by June 30 or, instead, allow the big man to hit unrestricted free agency. For his part, SNY‘s Ian Begley expects the latter to happen.
The 24-year-old impressed last season, putting up 8.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per contest while making 76.1% of his shot attempts. However, his offensive game continues to be limited to rim rolling, and doling out large sums to a player with such a specialized skill set may not be the move to make.
There’s also something to be said about the way in which a Robinson-Julius Randle frontcourt affects the Knicks’ spacing offensively.
In the event that either the Knicks or Robinson himself decide that it’s time to move on, an NBA executive pitched Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney on former No. 6 overall pick Mo Bamba as a potential replacement in a sign-and-trade deal with the Magic.
Exec: Bamba Likely the ‘Odd Man Out’ in Orlando
Bamba had by far the best year of his career in 2021-22, appearing in 71 games (while starting 69 of them) and averaging 10.6 points, 8.1 boards and 1.7 blocks. He also connected on 38.1% of his four three-point attempts per contest.
According to the Western Conference executive, though, his run in Orlando may be nearing its end as restricted free agency looms.
“The Magic will have some options with Bamba, he played well especially down the stretch of the season for them. But he figures to be the odd man out,” the exec told Deveney.
Not only that — the exec believes that the now 24-year-old could be had without breaking the bank.
“There will be a good push for a sign-and-trade,” the exec said. “He probably won’t come at too high a price because we have not seen him deliver consistently. But a decent young player and a pick and that could work. A lot of teams are going to consider taking a stab at him.”
Enter the Knicks, who could put such a package together with ease.
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Knicks Interest & Constructing the Deal
Bringing Bamba to NYC would be a different kind of move for the Knicks (in the best way possible.) Too often, the club has acquired players who were on their way down, i.e. Derrick Rose, Kemba Walker, Taj Gibson; even Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks and Evan Fournier are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning.
Bamba, on the other hand, is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential. So, as the exec sees it, he makes a ton of sense as a replacement for Robinson.
“The Knicks have had an interest in Bamba for a long time. He is a local guy, he wanted to play for the Knicks but he was off the board [in 2018] but some in that organization believe in Mitchell Robinson. If Robinson wants out though, Bamba is a good guy to have,” the exec said. “I think he can make Randle better because he can step out and shoot.”
Moreover, the Knicks have the assets to make a Bamba deal happen.
“They’d have to use a guy like Burks to match up the salary, but once you do that, the Knicks have all their picks, they have a pick from Dallas and they have four second-rounders in next year’s draft. You can give Orlando a first-rounder and a couple of 2023 second-rounders and they might be happy with that.”