Deandre Ayton’s plans could impact Knicks free agent Mitchell Robinson’s future

Nov 26, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) battles for a rebound against Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) and center Deandre Ayton (22) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The rebuilding Detroit Pistons remain the greatest threat to lure away Knicks center Mitchell Robinson from New York.

The Knicks’ chances to re-sign their starting center to a reasonable deal will likely depend on Deandre Ayton’s next destination.

The Pistons are linked to the disgruntled Phoenix Suns’ center owing to their massive hole at the center and the most cap space this offseason.

Ayton is a restricted free agent and the Suns could match any offer. But their reluctance to pay him max money and the ugly dynamic between him and Suns coach Monty Williams in their second-round flameout are troubling signs they’re headed for a divorce.

 

Pistons forward Jerami Grant figures to be the best return the Suns could get for Ayton in a sign-and-trade.

While the Suns could match any offer, they could move on from Ayton while receiving something back in a sign-and-trade.

Phoenix will be limited in most of those deals.

If the Pistons go this route, then the Knicks are likely to retain Robinson unless the Charlotte Hornets — the other team with cap space in need of a starting center — blow him away with a massive overpay.

Robinson and the Knicks have until the end of the month to agree to a fair deal for both sides. And there are signs that both parties are amenable to continuing their partnership.

The Knicks reportedly sent team personnel to work out with Robinson in Louisiana, per Ian Begley’s earlier report. It’s a sign that the Knicks organization is still invested in the big man.

Robinson, a polarizing figure on social media, also posted a photo of him wearing “New York or Nowhere.”“New York or Nowhere.” More recently, he posted a picture of him returning to New York and calling it “home.”

It will be a big blow if Robinson walks away without the Knicks getting something back.

The Pistons, who have deep ties with the Wasserman Group, which represents Robinson, could throw a wrench in the Knicks’ summer plans.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo