Can the Knicks trust Mitchell Robinson as their starting center moving forward?

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The New York Knicks were hoping to receive an answer on young center Mitchell Robinson regarding him being a long-term solution for the organization.

Last season, the 23-year-old Florida native averaged 8.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, and shot 65% from the field over just 31 games. He fractured both his hand and foot at different points in the season, minimizing his impact as the team relied on Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson for the second half of the year.

Tom Thibodeau was hoping that Robinson would elevate his game and become a more prominent force on offense, but the lack of point guard play has contributed toward his dismal scoring production. Robinson and Derrick Rose barely spent any time together on the floor, so if the Knicks elect to retain the veteran PG, that duo could end up being lucrative. However, the team is still eyeing a few younger upgrades, including Collin Sexton and potential free agent targets like Lonzo Ball.

Evaluating Mitchell Robinson’s situation with the Knicks:

When looking at Robinson’s contract, he has just one year left on his deal until he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He will carry a cap hit of just $1.8 million next year, but will likely receive a nice bump in pay afterward. However, his performance during the 2021-22 season will influence his next contract and if it will be with the Knicks or an alternative club.

The Knicks have a bit of time to assess his value to the team, as they have until August 1 of next year to negotiate a contract extension before he hits free agency. Of course, freak injuries last season impacted his play, but he is a change of pace player that offers solid defensive attributes and the potential for more on offense, but simply hasn’t had a complementary point guard to elevate his game. It was unfortunate to see him play just 31 contests, as the Knicks reached the postseason and desperately needed his physicality inside.

There’s no doubt he can be a long-term solution for New York at center, and he might actually come at a discount based on his lack of consistency, especially if he has a solid season next year. The Knicks might be smart to bring in another solid big man to compete alongside Robinson, as giving him the starting job might be a bit too optimistic. Someone like Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen could fit the bill, but he is a restricted free agent this off-season, as the team can accept his qualifying offer at $7.7 million. However, the Cavs could let him walk and the Knicks could submit an offer sheet to acquire him.

Allen is intriguing, averaging 12.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, and shooting 61% from the field this past season with Brooklyn and Cleveland. Based on his production, he seems to be a more fruitful option than Robinson at this point in his career, despite him being a much more expensive alternative.

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