Mitchell Robinson allayed fears and the rampant speculation of his unhappiness with the New York Knicks.
Talking for the first time since the controversial tweet he posted and quickly deleted the other night, Robinson denied it has nothing to do with the Knicks.
“It was like a personal thing,” Robinson told reporters after the Knicksâ€™ morning shootaround.
â€œSo I really donâ€™t even want to talk about that. Itâ€™s just something thatâ€™s going on in my life. And Iâ€™ll leave that alone,â€ the 23-year old center added.
Robinsonâ€™s deleted tweet said, â€œOne day, theyâ€™ll let me play.â€
Now deleted tweet from Mitchell Robinson after tonight’s loss in UtahðŸ‘€ pic.twitter.com/OiOBRcrqfz
â€” Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSkool) January 27, 2021
The controversial tweet came after their second-half meltdown in a road loss to the Utah Jazz. In that game, Robinson only scored seven points on four field-goal attempts while adding eight rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes.
His Jazz counterpart, Rudy Gobert, recently signed to a five-year, $205-million extension, dominated with 18 points, 19 rebounds, and four shot blocks.
Robinson, a second-round pick in 2018, is only earning $1.6 million this year. The Knicks have the option to re-sign him to a new deal or pick up his team option of $1.8 million next year, but that would make him an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season.
This season, Robinson has scored almost exclusively on dunks, lobs, and putbacks. Plays have been rarely run through him as heâ€™s being used primarily for rim protection and anchoring the Knicks defense, which is currently the best in the league in points and field goal and three-point percentage allowed.
Robinsonâ€™s usage rate decreased from 13.3 to 11.5 this season.
But his much-improved discipline on defense â€” committing only an average of 2.7 fouls from 3.2 last season â€” has kept him longer on the floor. He has yet to foul out in 19 games this season.
The 7-foot centerâ€™s scoring and shot blocks have dipped a little bit (9.1 points on 66 percent shooting and 1.7 blocks), but heâ€™s averaging career-highs in minutes (29.6), rebounds (8.4), and steals (1.7).
Robinson has yet to attempt a three in his career despite teasing with those shots on social media in the offseason.
He can look up to Joakim Noahâ€™s career trajectory under Tom Thibodeau.
Noah, who has blossomed to become a defensive stalwart under Thibodeauâ€™s watch in Chicago, has experienced a similar situation.
The former Bullsâ€™ center who also played for the Knicks averaged 10.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, 0.5 steal, and 1.6 blocks in 30.1 minutes before Thibodeau arrived in Chicago. The following season, Noah averaged 11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.5 blocks in 32.8 minutes.
Three seasons later, Noah became the leagueâ€™s Defensive Player of the Year.
After a bumpy start with Thibodeau when he said Robinson could improve in two areasâ€”professionalism and disciplineâ€”the young center has worked his way up and earned his coachâ€™s trust. Thibodeau has since been effusive in his praise for Robinson, who is now firmly entrenched in his starting spot despite the presence of veteran Nerlens Noel.
So the speculations of Robinsonâ€™s unhappiness with the team are somewhat surprising.
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…
â€” kris pursiainen (@krispursiainen) January 20, 2021
Last week, the ramblings first surfaced on a social media report immediately shut down by his camp.
â€œ100% not true,â€ Robinsonâ€™s trainer Marcell Scott, Jr. told Empire Sports Media when reached for comment.
Scott Jr. added: â€œHe (Robinson) loves the direction the Knicks are heading, plus he loves New York! His new agency and myself (his camp) have absolutely no issues!!!â€
Robinson personally said heâ€™s fine with his role with the team despite the limited touches on offense.
“I kind of like my role,â€ Robinson said. â€œWeâ€™re winning games. Why change it? Know what I mean? Anything that I could do to help win more would be great, but I just want to keep it consistent. Weâ€™re doing pretty good right now, so why change?”
Despite their current three-game losing streak, the Knicks are one of the seasonâ€™s big surprises with an 8-11 start. And Robinson has been a big part of that defensively.
When asked if he thought he could expand his game similar to Andre Drummond, whom he will defend tonight for the fifth time since the preseason, Robinson answered with a focus on the Knicks.
“I know I can defend. I donâ€™t really compare myself to other players,” he said. “I mean, Iâ€™m worried about our team. Other players, they can talk about whatever they want to talk about. Iâ€™m just talking about us as Knicks,â€ said Robinson, who grabbed his practice jersey to emphasize the Knicks printed on the center.
Robinson feels no insecurity with his game and role with the team. Itâ€™s the Knicksâ€™ turn to make him feel secured with a contract extension next summer.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo