Tom Thibodeau says Knicks 3 center rotation is ‘a good luxury to have’

Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks

Mitchell Robinson played his most minutes since his return from a sprained right knee in New York Knicks‘ 132-129 overtime loss to Portland Trail Blazers.

While he had his most productive game with 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes, Robinson remained undisciplined on defense with six fouls and atrocious at the stripes, missing two important free throws in overtime.

“[Robinson] has been choppy with the time off and then coming back. So, the same thing, like we talked about verticality all the time. So if they see your hands coming down, they (referees) will make the call.”

Tom Thibodeau postgame via MSG Network

Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims alternated as Robinson’s backup. It marked the third straight game that Thibodeau deployed all three centers.

Hartenstein, still bothered by inflamed Achilles, had six points, two rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. Sims closed out the game with five points, all in the fourth quarter, and added two rebounds, both from the offensive glass, in 13 minutes.

His three-point play off a turnaround jumper tied the game at 109-109, giving the Knicks a chance to win. But Jalen Brunson missed a floater at the end of the regulation and they eventually folded up in the overtime.

“[Sims] had some big-time minutes, especially against Jusuf Nurkic, who is not easy to go against. So, I’m proud of him and we’re going to need him.”

RJ Barrett via MSG Network

While Thibodeau prefers to have a two-center rotation, Sims’ growth, coupled with Robinson’s easing back into action, the Knicks will continue with the status quo.

“It’s game-to-game. It’ll sort itself out. I don’t think it’ll be like that every game. But I love the depth of that position. So all three guys are more than capable, all three can start, and all three can come off the bench. It’s a good luxury to have.”

Tom Thibodeau via NY Post

At some point, Thibodeau must decide what to do with their sudden center rotation logjam.

Robinson’s starting spot is locked with a $60 million contract this summer. A stretch five, Hartenstein is beginning to fade after a hot start as he admitted he’s struggling to replicate Robinson’s role in the second unit. That opened up for Sims to get off the Thibodeau’s dog house, and he’s making his presence felt.

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