Report: Bulls interested in Knicks’ center Mitchell Robinson

Knicks, Mitchell Robinson Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) shoots against New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) during the first half at Madison Square Garden

An old Knicks rival has emerged as another threat aside from the Detroit Pistons to lure free-agent-to-be Mitchell Robinson out of New York.

Fresh from their first playoff appearance since 2017, the Bulls are keen on shoring up their defense around Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.

The 24-year-old Mitchell is perhaps the consolation prize if the Bulls miss out on a Rudy Gobert trade.

“Sources have also indicated the Bulls are a team with interest in Gobert (and other centers on the market, including Knicks free agent Mitchell Robinson),” The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor wrote on Tuesday.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that a popular package being floated around by league executives revolves around Nikola Vucevic and Patrick Williams for Gobert.

The Bulls’ reluctance in adding Williams could lead them to pursue Robinson instead. While Robinson isn’t a three-time Defensive Player of the Year like Gobert, he has been a solid rim protector when he’s healthy and engaged. His price tag is much cheaper than Gobert, who will earn $38,172,414 next season.

Vucevic is entering the final year of a four-year, $100-million deal. He is eligible to sign a four-year, $118 million extension which would cripple the Bulls’ financial flexibility. That makes the 31-year-old, two-time NBA All-Star center a hot trade candidate this offseason.

But it would require a complicated sign-and-trade for the Bulls to swap Vucevic for Robinson, who is seeking more than the midlevel exception in his next deal.

Robinson has returned to New York after spending some time in Louisiana with Knicks personnel monitoring his offseason workouts. The Knicks have until June 30 to strike an extension with their young starting center. Robinson is eligible to sign a four-year, $55 million extension which the Knicks reportedly are reluctant to give.

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