On Tuesday night, a rumor surfaced online that Robinson’s camp is not confident that the up-and-coming center will sign an extension with the Knicks.
Kris Pursiainen of the Knicks Film School and a former Sports Illustrated writer has heard from a source familiar with the situation that this might be Robinson’s last season with the Knicks.
I'm hearing that there isn't much confidence within Mitchell Robinson's camp that he'll sign an extension. Someone familiar with the situation informed me that this might be his last year with the Knicks as things stand.
Hopefully the two sides are able to work something out…
— kris pursiainen (@krispursiainen) January 20, 2021
Marcell Scott, Jr., Robinson’s trainer, quickly shut down the rumor.
“100% not true. He [Robinson] loves the direction the Knicks are heading, plus he loves New York,” Scott Jr. told Empire Sports Media in a text message. “His new agency and myself (his camp) has absolutely no issues!!!”
Robinson has recently dumped super-agent Rich Paul and joined the Wasserman group, his sixth agency in three years.
The 23-year old center is due for $1.6 million this season, a bargain deal considering his value on the court. So far, Robinson has been outplaying his contract.
Last summer, ESPN’s Front Office Insider Bobby Marks broke down the contentious issue surrounding Robinson’s contract extension that may explain why the Knicks are holding out.
“If the Knicks extend him the maximum of a projected three years, $35 million, his new salary would replace the $1.9 million cap hold for 2022. The Knicks could also amend the contract to decline his option in 2021-22 and sign him to a four-year, $50 million extension. In either scenario, New York would lose up to $10 million in cap flexibility,” Marks wrote.
“However, if there is no extension in place, the Knicks could lose him for nothing because he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.”
Robinson appears to enjoy the faith of the new coaching staff, particularly head coach Tom Thibodeau after a rough start during the summer. After Robinson skipped the second part of their OTA due to personal reasons, Thibodeau posited during the training camp that Robinson has to grow in two areas—professionalism and discipline.
Robinson started the preseason on the bench, but he has worked his way up to the starting unit.
When the season started, Thibodeau pivoted to using Robinson more than veteran Nerlens Noel, who was out for a significant time due to injury. Thibodeau has been effusive in his praise ever since, describing his young center as the Knicks’ defensive anchor.
“You guys haven’t seen it yet, but it’s coming,” said Thibodeau talking about Robinson’s rise unprompted after the Knicks’ big win on the road in Indiana last January 3.
In the Knicks’ stunning 7-8 start, Robinson is averaging 8.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.8 blocks, and a career-high 30 minutes of playing time. What’s striking is his much-improved discipline on the defensive end.
His shot-blocking rate may be down, but he’s been altering shots and defending the rim with better footwork. He has managed to cut down on his fouls to 2.7 compared to 3.2 and 3.3, respectively, in his first two seasons.
The way Thibodeau has talked about Robinson, it’s clear that he’s a big part of the Knicks’ future.
The inevitable would come. Robinson will get paid in his next contract. And that should come next summer.
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