Report: New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson exits ‘Bubble’ for personal reasons

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson

The New York Knicks had a great turnout on the first day of their voluntary workouts except for the conspicuous absence of their third-year center Mitchell Robinson.

SNY’s Ian Begley reported that Robinson has exited the Knicks’ ‘Bubble’ in Westchester County due to personal reasons.

Curiously, Robinson has posted a video of a baby earlier in the day on his Instagram story and used the song “You are the reason” as the background music.  It is not clear if the baby in the video has something to do with Robinson opting out of the team workouts that will continue through October 6.

Robinson was in attendance during the team’s individual workouts, which started last week.  He was even seen working out with the new assistant coach and said to be a big man’s whisperer, Kenny Payne.

In a zoom call with Knicks reporters today, The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov said that new head coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t exactly say who was in attendance and who was missing.

“Some guys weren’t comfortable with that, so we totally understood that part of it,” Thibodeau was quoted saying.

The second phase of their OTA, which consists of practice, skills or conditioning sessions, and intra-squad scrimmages, will give Thibodeau and his staff a better look at the roster they currently have.  The scrimmages will also serve as a sort of tryouts for their G-League players and those with non-guaranteed contracts (team options).

One of their two-way players, Kenny Wooten, Jr., appeared to be soaking in the experience with the new coaching staff.

Meanwhile, the Knicks have until late October to guarantee the contracts of Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Elfrid Payton, and Bobby Portis.

New York Knicks: Kenny Wooten Earns All-Defensive Team Award

New York Knicks, Kenny Wooten

Kenny Wooten Jr. who is currently on the New York Knicks affiliate squad, Westchester Knicks recently earned the All-Defensive Team Award. Wooten is a master when it comes to blocking shots and applying pressure to opposing rim attacks.

The 6’9″ 220-pound pogo stick in Kenny Wooten is making it easy for the Knicks due to his hard nose style of play. Current main team teammate, Mitchell Robinson believes Kenny Wooten is actually the highest leaper on the entire team, both New York and its Westchester affiliate combined.

Kenny Wooten who is fully healed from his thumb injury is looking to earn a spot on the New York Knicks main team this offseason under new Knicks front office led by Leon Rose and William Wesley also known as “World Wide Wes”.

The Knicks are currently in need of a backup center and if Kenny Wooten continues to improve and gain accolades especially due to his defensive disruption, there might be a spot on the main Knicks squad behind Mitchell Robinson. If LaMelo Ball falls unto the New York Knicks lap on draft night, then there’ll be two bigs who’ll make LaMelo’s life super easy when it comes to the pick and roll and lob attacks.

The front office for the New York Knicks seems to be playing chess instead of checkers under Leon Rose. Many fans disagreed with the recent waiving of Allonzo Trier, however, that decision seemed more like a financial one.

Overall, Kenny Wooten is already loved by Knick fans and he hasn’t even played a single game for the New York Knicks under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. He’ll get his opportunity whenever the time is right. Wooten’s hard work and humility are not going unnoticed.

New York Knicks could cut veterans, make space for G League standouts

The New York Knicks’ roster should be in for some big changes this offseason. The Knicks filled out their team last summer with veteran signings. The team has strategized the past year to have cap flexibility going forward, and it could lead to major shifts in the roster next season.

No one has stood out

The only player that the Knicks acquired last summer who exceeded expectations was Marcus Morris Sr., who the Knicks wisely traded at the deadline for a first-round pick.

That isn’t to say some of the Knicks’ veterans haven’t had good spurts of contribution. Moe Harkless has impressed with his defense in his brief time with the Knicks, though he will be a free agent this summer. Elfrid Payton has certainly been a great playmaker, and Taj Gibson’s leadership has been an asset. All that said, no one is safe.

Among the Knicks veterans, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, and Wayne Ellington all have team options next season. If the Knicks were to decline all of them, they would save roughly 34 million in cap space. The writing is on the wall.

Now, assuming Portis, Gibson, Ellington, and Harkless all leave next summer, that opens up a lot of roster spots and a lot of minutes. Some of those spots will be taken by the Knicks 2020 draft picks, and potential free agent signings. They can also be taken by the Knicks’ G League standouts.

The Big 3

It’s been hard for the New York Knicks to properly allocate minutes to all of their young players. While some players like Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier have been stuck on the Knicks’ bench, others have gotten significant playing time with the team’s G League affiliate. The 3 who have stood out are forward Ignas Brazdeikis, guard Lamar Peters, and big man Kenny Wooten.

Ignas Brazdeikis

Brazdeikis will most likely get the first crack at the rotation, as he was the Knicks 2nd round pick in 2019. Brazdeikis has lit up the G League, averaging 20.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. His offensive versatility is something the Knicks are severely lacking from their wing players.

Lamar Peters

Lamar Peters has been a jolt of offense for the Westchester Knicks. The shifty, undrafted rookie out of Mississippi State has posted just under 18 points per game. His outside shooting has been impressive: 40% from 3. Peters could find himself as a scorer off the bench for the Knicks next season.

Kenny Wooten

While he may not score much, Kenny Wooten may have the most highlight-reel plays of the 3. The undrafted center is a force of nature defending the paint. He averages a whopping 3.6 blocks per game in the G League and could find himself backing up Mitchell Robinson in the future.

Plan Going Forward

It remains to be seen how the Knicks will mold their roster for next season. Most of the veterans on the team seem like obvious cap casualties. The Knicks have been able to develop talent in the G League that definitely deserves a look in the NBA. Bringing up young guys like Brazdeikis, Peters, and Wooten would certainly help drive some competition for roster spots.

The New York Knicks aren’t developing their youth

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks have had many organizational issues over the last decade. These include front office mismanagement, a revolving door at head coach, and an inability to develop young players. The Knicks are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference at 20 games below .500. They are in line to finish as the 6th worst team in the NBA. Not good enough to make the playoffs, not bad enough to have great lottery odds. We’ve seen this story before.

The Knicks are neglecting their draft picks.

Take Kevin Knox, the 8th overall pick of the 2018 draft as an example. In 2018, Playing alongside a barren roster, Knox managed to earn NBA Rookie of the month for December and a spot in the Rising Stars Game.

What is Knox up to in his 2nd season? He is currently averaging  18.4 minutes per game, 28th among sophomores. You read that correctly. The 8th overall pick from a year ago is 28th in minutes played amongst his draft class peers.

When the Knicks traded Marcus Morris at the deadline, it was an opportunity for younger players to take his minutes. In the three games since Morris has been traded, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and Dennis Smith rank 9th, 10th, and 11th on the team in minutes per game, respectively. Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson have been DNPs. Iggy Brazdeikis and Kenny Wooten are stuck in the G League. Taj Gibson and Wayne Ellington have seen more minutes in those games.

With this roster, development is far more critical than a few wins. Knicks fans don’t want to see Reggie Bullock and Elfrid Payton lead the team to victory a few times a month. They want to see the “Baby Knicks” get playing time. They want to see a youth movement.

The future of the New York Knicks still has no clear direction

New York Knicks, James Dolan

The New York Knicks started somewhat on the right path when it came to drafting talent.  In free agency, they were able to add a solid combination of youth and veteran players.  It was clear that they were on the right path to build something.

However, of recent, it appears to be very unclear the direction Mike Miller and the organization wants to take.  Do they want to begin to develop their youth for the future?  Or, do they want to continue playing veteran players when the playoffs are out of reach.  The Knicks currently sit 7 games out of the 8th seed.

For the moment, it seems like the Knicks are content with playing the veterans over the young players.  They’re 12-32 on the season and that’s with mostly playing the older guys.  That should be a sign that the year is lost when the vets aren’t performing.  It’s time to play the kids.

The only thing the organization is going is making their fans more angry.  They’ve been angry since 2013, the Knicks last playoff appearance.  Continuing to play the older players is this meaningless game is only adding fuel to the fire.

We’ve seen this story before with the Knicks and it’s extremely frustrating.  One example, Jarrett Jack.  He played over Frank Ntilikina and Daymean Dotson in 2017 which stalled their development.  A lot of that can be said about this year too.

Taj Gibson is starting over Mitchell Robinson.  Reggie Bullock is starting over Daymean Dotson.  Elfrid Payton, while young, is starting over Frank Ntilikina.  But Ntilikina brings more defense to the table which is a struggle for this team.  And Kevin Knox’s minutes are never enough.

Also, Marcus Morris, 30-years-old, is the Knicks leading scorer but due to his age it’s unlikely he’s in their future plans.  Those ‘future plans’ are very blurry.

The New York Knicks need to figure out what’a best for their future.  As of right now, playing veteran players over the younger ones doesn’t seem to serve a purpose.  They’re taking way minutes and any future strides they might make.  It’s not their fault, it’s the coaching and the front office to blame.

New York Knicks, for once, might do the right thing before the trade deadline

New York Knicks, Kenny Wooten

The New York Knicks are always in the mix when the trade deadline comes around.  Last season the Knicks made a big splash with the Kristaps Porzingis trade in January.  They were able to acquire picks which is something rare for them.

The Knicks always seem to be the team that’s giving away picks for superstars and/or quick fixes.  That hasn’t happened for awhile now but back in the early 2000’s and 2010’s it happened a lot.

This time around the Knicks appear to be staying put on trading away any of their first-round picks.  That is the best news that fans can hear around the deadline.  First-rounds picks are where the Knicks are going to build their future.  Stock piling as many picks as they can is only going to be better in the long run.

The Knicks are finally doing the right thing when it comes to keeping all picks.

Another thing that the New York Knicks finally did right was calling up G-League stand-out Kenny Wooten Jr.  There were teams that were reportedly interested in trading for Wooten, so the Knicks had to act fast.  They signed him to a two-way contract and waived Ivan Rabb.

Wooten should get time considering other teams were interested in him and the Knicks need to see what he can go.  He had major ups and pairing him with Mitchell Robinson would be something to look forward to for the future.  Wooten’s highlight tape speaks for itself.

New York Knicks: Taj Gibson Would Be A Great Mentor For Kenny Wooten

New York Knicks, Taj Gibson

New York Knicks starting center Taj Gibson would be a great mentor for current Westchester Knick defensive anchor Kenny Wooten. This vet/rookie pairing would be similar to the 2018-19 NBA season when former Knick starting center DeAndre Jordan was mentoring Mitchell Robinson for the second half the season after the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

Kenny Wooten’s game is developing rapidly and he possesses a similar playing style fundamentally to Taj Gibson especially since Wooten added the mid-range jumper to his arsenal. Athletically, Kenny Wooten is definitely in another stratosphere. Taj Gibson never dreamed of being an athletic freak like Wooten, however, it doesn’t mean Gibson can’t teach the young aspiring rim protector some defensive principles and offensive fundamentals.

Motor is definitely not a problem for Wooten. The former Oregon defensive anchor went undrafted in the 2018-19 NBA Draft due to his one-dimensional style. However, Wooten has always been dominant in his one-dimensional style which of course is shot-blocking and rim protection. Kenny Wooten is undersized for the center position at 6’8″ and that concerned many scouts. However, he does possess a 7’2″ wingspan and a 36″ standing vertical which is outstanding athletically. Wooten has always been a beast when vertically contesting his opponents, however, there’s some improvement to be made for his horizontal defense and that could be technique related. Therefore, a potential mentor in Taj Gibson may bring out the best version of Kenny Wooten defensively. Wooten’s improvement on his high arching mid-range jumper is a plus and Gibson can work with the young stud on how to use that mid-range jumper to his advantage more efficiently.

Overall, the Knicks must call up Kenny Wooten from G-League affiliate Westchester Knicks, swiftly, rapidly, speedily, and immediately. Bringing in a one-dimensional talent like Wooten who seems to have the motor to learn and placing him under interim coach Mike Miller, along with the tutelage of Taj Gibson could be a seed well planted for the future.

Is Kenny Wooten The Latest New York Knicks Gem?

New York Knicks, Kenny Wooten

While the New York Knicks (particularly RJ Barrett) have struggled in Summer League thus far, there have been several bright spots. One of those standouts is a big who catches lobs and blocks shots at a high level. No, I’m not talking about Mitchell Robinson…

I’m referring to Kenny Wooten, the 6’8 forward out of Oregon who went undrafted. Though he’s played just 15 minutes per game and has averaged just 2.5 points per game, Wooten has impressed on the defensive side of the ball.

With 4.5 rebounds per game and two blocks per game in those limited minutes, Wooten has been an incredibly active rim protector, swatting shots left and right. This backs up what we saw from him in the NCAA Tournament when he averaged three blocks per game. 

Each year in Summer League, teams find a breakout player who was previously under-the-radar. Wooten may be that this year for the Knicks. While he has an extremely raw offensive game, his defensive skills are already solid, and he has plenty of room to grow, on both sides. 

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Is it possible for Kenny Wooten to earn a spot on the New York Knicks?

Since the Knicks have just one roster spot remaining (and it may be filled by Marcus Morris), Wooten likely can’t earn a spot on the team. However, New York would be well-served to send him down to Westchester, where he could learn under the tutelage of Mike Miller, who is known for developing projects.

Wooten is just the latest in terms of players Scott Perry and Steve Mills have pulled off the scrap heap, so to speak. Guys like Kadeem Allen, Allonzo Trier, and to some extent Mitchell Robinson and Iggy Brazdeikis, were all overlooked by other teams. Here’s hoping that trend will continue.