After the Knicks exercised their $1.8 million team option that will make Robinson an unrestricted free agent next summer, Empire Sports Media has learned that the team is closely monitoring his physical conditioning to get him ready for the training camp.
“Some of the Knicks staff is here in New Orleans making sure he is straight physically. They are truly invested in Mitch,” Robinson’s trainer Marcell Scott told Empire Sports Media. “It’s gonna be a great year!”
Robinson’s ascent as one of the premier defensive big men in the league got sidetracked last season after a pair of serious injuries — fractured hand and foot — limited him to just 31 games. In that small sample size last season, the young center flashed promising signs of improvement under defensive guru Tom Thibodeau and big man’s whisperer Kenny Payne.
Gains. Keep working, Mitch ðŸ’ª
(via mrobinson23_/IG) pic.twitter.com/SoEMPaipX3
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) June 25, 2021
Robinson learned to stay disciplined on and off the court. His foul rate (2.8 per game) went down to its lowest in his three seasons in the league, leading to an increased playing time of 27.5 minutes per game.
The rebounding numbers shot up in the process to 8.1 from 7.0 per game last season. His blocked shots may have gone down (1.5 from 2.0 per game last season), but that is because he has learned to play more with his feet and not just by his hands.
Robinson finished fourth among centers in defensive win shares (0.114) behind Rudy Gobert (0.181), Joel Embiid (0.135), and Anthony Davis (0.125) last season, according to NBA.com.
Overall, his numbers — 8.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.5 blocks — don’t scream a star center, but he’s starting to fit in nicely to Thibodeau’s system as their anchor in the middle before the injuries. Offensively, he was limited to just catching lobs and cleaning up the boards, but that could change soon if he can show improvements on his shooting and with a better point guard coming in to orchestrate plays for the team.
On a contract year, Robinson is aching to show he’s worth a significant investment. According to ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks, Robinson is eligible for a contract extension worth up to $51 million.
“He must have a good season. No excuses! He’s well capable so no worries about this end,” Scott said.” The boy is good.”
But Scott made it clear that he is in no way part of the negotiating camp of Robinson for his next NBA contract.
“I just train. I don’t do anything else. That [next contract] is his agency’s decision. Now, will he be ready? Absolutely,” Scott said. “He will be fine. God is looking over him.”
Robinson is now on his sixth agent, Thad Foucher and Joe Smith of the Wasserman Group, after moving on from super-agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports last year.
But that’s the least of Scott’s concerns as he said that this summer’s priority is to have Robinson at full strength before they can set their sights on their goals, including the coveted Defensive Player of the Year award.
“No major training as of now, he’s just staying healthy and getting stronger. I just want him to be ready to do everything the coach asks of him,” Scott said. “DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year), make free throws are the goals for next season. Everything else just comes with being the high-energy guy on the floor.”
Last year, Robinson shot a career-worst 49.1 percent at the line on just 1.7 free throws per game. Scott already has a plan in place to have Robinson work on improving that.
If things go according to plan, Robinson is in line for a redemption season that will hopefully lead to a bigger payday down the line.
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