Report: Knicks center Mitchell Robinson could fetch $12-13M in free agency

The New York Knicks might have to overpay their starting center Mitchell Robinson this summer if they want to retain him.

HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto reported on Thursday that the consensus among five league executives is that Robinson could fetch around $12-13 million in annual salary in the open market.

“I spoke to five NBA executives, and I asked them what in their mind is Mitchell Robinson’sprojected free agency value as of today? According to those executives, his worst-case scenario is the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, but generally, the projected range for him is between $12-13 million annually, which would be more than what Nerlens Noel got previously in free agency with the Knicks,” Scotto said on his podcast.

The Knicks re-signed Noel last summer to a three-year, $32 million with team option at the backend of the deal. Recent reports hinted that Robinson’s camp will not settle for anything less than that. The Knicks can extend Robinson to a maximum of a four-year deal with $48 million as base salary and stretch up to $54 million, including bonuses.

Scotto noted that most executives believe that with the Knicks having Robinson’s Bird Rights, they will not allow Robinson to walk for nothing. But a sign-and-trade scenario is tricky, and teams with cap space, such as the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs, could straight-up offer Robinson.

“One executive told me, “I think the Knicks re-sign him and maybe overpay to do so to keep him as an asset. It’ll be a tough negotiation given what they gave Nerlens Noel,” Scotto added.

If it goes to a bidding war, one executive told Scotto that Robinson could be looking at $15 million annually.

Recently inked centers have earned lucrative extensions with their respective teams making Robinson, and his camp emboldened in the negotiation table.

Clint Capela signed a two-year extension with the Atlanta Hawks worth $46 million. Jarrett Allen, who developed into an All-Star center this season, had a five-year, $100 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Robert Williams III, who resembles Robinson’s game, signed a four-year, $54 million extension with the Boston Celtics.

Robinson, a former second-round pick, showed flashes of brilliance. He was dominant in games against lesser caliber centers and recently dominated De’Andre Ayton in the Knicks’ tough loss in Phoenix last week. Ayton, the former top overall pick, is set to become a restricted free agent after the Suns held back from giving him the maximum $172.5 million contract extension over five years.

One executive was skeptical about committing big money to Robinson.

“He’s talented as a rim protector and elite on the offensive glass. He’s good offensively in the dunker area, and he can finish at a high clip, but he has no perimeter game and has a bit of an injury history,” the executive told Scotto.

Robinson is coming off two major injuries last season, limiting him to only 31 games. This season, Robinson started slowly as he worked his way back into game shape. He’s averaging 8.4 points, a career-best 8.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks while shooting 77.3 percent but only on 4.6 attempts almost exclusively on putbacks and lobs.

The Pistons, projected to have the most cap space this summer with $26.4 million, reportedly showed interest in Robinson before the trade deadline. They have solid intel on Robinson coming from one of their scouts, Harold Ellis, who previously worked as director of player personnel with the Knicks under the previous regime.

If the Knicks decide to move on from Robinson, they will have plenty of options ranging from restricted free agents Ayton and Orlando’s Mo Bamba to unrestricted free agent veterans Jusuf Nurkic, Serge Ibaka, DeMarcus Cousins, Javale McGee, Andre Drummond, and Thomas Bryant.

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