Mark Cuban thinks Knicks target Jalen Brunson wants to stay in Dallas

jalen brunson, knicks

The Dallas Mavericks are ready to spoil New York Knicks‘ bid to acquire unrestricted free agent Jalen Brunson this summer.

No less than Mavericks owner Mark Cuban indicated that they want to keep Brunson at all costs.

“We can pay him more than anybody. And I think he wants to stay, and that’s most important,” Cuban told Bally Sports Southwest sideline reporter and NBA insider Marc Stein, just moments after the Mavericks bowed out in the Western Conference Finals Thursday night.

Brunson raised his stocks further in the playoffs, averaging 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists after a career-high 16.3 points in the regular season.

The Mavericks bungled their chance to lock up Brunson in a much lesser deal last summer and during this season. Now, Cuban will have to open his wallet to secure their Doncic-Brunson backcourt and pay a huge luxury tax.

Per ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks, Brunson’s floor is the four-year, $75 million contract his teammate, Tim Hardaway, Jr., signed last year.

“The comparison for Brunson ranges from the four-year, $78 million extension that Marcus Smart signed with Boston to the four-year, $96 million extension that Terry Rozier signed last year with the Charlotte Hornets,” Marks wrote.

The Knicks and the Detroit Pistons are the threat to lure Brunson out of Dallas. But they could only offer him four years. The Mavericks are unperturbed as they hold Brunson’s Bird rights. They could offer the most money with an additional fifth year on a deal. On top of that, as presently constructed, the Mavericks offer Brunson his best shot at an NBA championship with Luka Doncic on board.

The Knicks need to unload at least $20 million in salaries (a combination of Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel or Kemba Walker) by June 30 to have a cap space to go after Brunson in the free agency. A sign-and-trade deal involving Knicks’ own unrestricted free agent Mitchell Robinson is more complicated than it seems.

First, the Knicks will need Robinson and the Mavericks’ cooperation. Then the salaries will be hard to match.

Marks noted that “only 50% of Brunson’s incoming salary for a new team applies. That means a $20 million salary counts as only $10 million in incoming salary, but the full amount still applies toward outgoing salary.”

Only the Pistons appear to be a threat among the four teams with projected cap space. But Brunson playing next to Cade Cunningham isn’t as appealing as playing next to Doncic. Phoenix Suns’ restricted free agent DeAndre Ayton could also be a bigger fish for the Pistons to catch this summer.

The Knicks are viewed as a legitimate threat not only because of the deep ties that link them to Brunson, but they could also offer him the keys to their backcourt.

Rick Brunson, Jalen’s father, was Leon Rose’s first NBA client. Rose also represented Jalen and negotiated his four-year rookie contract with the Mavericks. Now, Rose’s son, Sam, is one of Jalen’s Creative Artists Agency’s representatives.

But Rick made it very clear that it will ultimately be a business decision, not personal.

“I’ve made it very clear to Leon, ‘I love you to death. Your son works for Jalen, represents Jalen, but this is about Jalen.’ The one thing about Leon is he knows that. He raised Jalen that way, too,” Rick told ESPN in late April.

“It’s about what’s best for Jalen. Leon wouldn’t never talk to me again. The question I have is, is it a good fit in New York? We don’t know because we have to sit down and figure it out [and evaluate the] draft. July 1 is a long way away.”

After Brunson, the Knicks’ free agent options at point guard are limited with Tyus Jones, Ricky Rubio, Dennis Schroeder and Gary Payton II.

If they miss out on Brunson, and unless they could pull off a trade for Donovan Mitchell, perhaps the Knicks should consider promoting Immanuel Quickley to the starting unit with a fit-again Derrick Rose quarterbacking the second unit with Miles McBride.

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Report: Ex-Nets Alize Johnson, Reggie Perry lead Knicks’ free agent tryouts

The New York Knicks held a minicamp for free agents in preparation for the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas in July.

Former Brooklyn Nets’ big men Alize Johnson and Reggie Perry led the 12-man field that also included returning Westchester Knicks gunner Louis King, per Forbes Sports’ Adam Zagoria.

Johnson earned a standard contract with the Nets in 2021 after a pair of impressive 10-day contracts. His best game as a member of the Nets came in a 130-113 win over the Indiana Pacers on April 29, 2021, with 20 points and a career-high 21 rebounds.

But despite showing flashes, Johnson was waived in September to make a roster spot for LaMarcus Aldridge. After his short stint with the Nets, he bounced around the league on 10-day contracts.

Meanwhile, Perry is a former McDonald’s All-American who has yet to find his footing in the league. The 2019 FIBA U-19 World Cup MVP failed to crack the Nets’ rotation in 2021 and got cut. He last saw action for the Portland Trail Blazers this past season.

Free-agent players who also attended the minicamp are Devon Dotson, John Petty, Craig Randall, George King, Chris Clemons, Carlik Jones, Aaron Henry, AJ Lawson and Daquan Jeffries.

Perhaps the best players from this minicamp will reinforce the Knicks’ NBA Summer League team featuring their young core.

Marc Berman of the New York Post recently reported that the Knicks’ youngsters, led by Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin, were already back at their Tarrytown practice facility gearing up for the next season. Cam Reddish, who just recovered from a season-ending shoulder injury, was also back in harness. Incoming sophomores Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride and Jericho Sims also joined the workouts.

 

The Knicks are stacked with 12 returning players on guaranteed contracts for next season. Jericho Sims’ two-way contract will likely get converted into a standard NBA contract hiking that list to 13, not counting their two picks in the coming NBA Draft. They also have decisions to make on Mitchell Robinson, who has until June 30 to agree to an extension with the Knicks. Otherwise, Robinson becomes an unrestricted free agent. Then there’s Taj Gibson, who has a team option for next season.

The Knicks are expected to trade Kemba Walker and maybe some of their veterans to declog the roster logjam and reshape their roster following a disappointing 37-45 season.

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Report: Knicks remain a cash cow, Nets losing money

new york knicks, julius randle

The New York Knicks may have missed the NBA playoffs, but James Dolan still raked in more money than Joe Tsai did with his star-studded luxury tax team Brooklyn Nets.

According to a New York Post report, the Knicks have brought in about $900,000 more than the Nets’ average gate receipts per game. A team headlined by struggling Julius Randle and ascending RJ Barrett at Madison Square Garden was the hotter ticket in town, drawing 18,621 fans per game, which ranked eighth in league attendance. On the other hand, the Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving star power drew 17,354 spectators per game at Barclays Center, good for 13th in league attendance.

Those numbers translated to $3 million per game for the Knicks, a 9 percent jump from the pre-pandemic in the 2018-19 season. But while the Nets lagged with just $2.1 million per game, it was still much better than the pre-Durant-Irving era.

Before Durant and Irving chose Brooklyn over New York’s beloved Knicks, the Nets were only averaging $1 million per game from about 15,000 tickets sold, after giveaways, in the 2018-19 season. That 26-percent improvement represents the biggest bump in the league, which they share with the resurgent Phoenix Suns.

But still, Tsai, who bought the Nets franchise for a record $2.35 billion and the Barclays Center for $1 billion in 2019, is losing money with the second-highest payroll in the league.

Tsai bankrolled the Durant-Irving-Harden and later with unplayable Ben Simmons for a staggering $172,836,362 with an estimated tax bill of $97,731,568 this season. In contrast, despite his Knicks front office going on a spending spree in the last offseason, Dolan had the third-lowest payroll in the league, spending just $120,376,240, avoiding the luxury tax bill.

Now, Tsai and his GM Sean Marks, have a $247.6 million decision, among other things, to make this summer to retain the uber-talented but mercurial Irving.

Meanwhile, Dolan and his team president Leon Rose also have crucial decisions to make on their extension-eligible young core pieces, Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett.

Robinson is eligible for a four-year extension maximum of $58 million until June 30 while Barrett can be extended this summer up to five years, $181 million.

If not extended, Robinson will enter unrestricted free agency this July, while Barrett becomes a restricted free agent after next season.

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LOOK: Knicks center Mitchell Robinson wears New York or Nowhere shirt ahead of free agency

New York or nowhere.

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson let his intentions known through his wardrobe choice six weeks before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

The 24-year-old Robinson wore a black shirt with New York or Nowhere emblazoned on his chest during his recent visit to his high school in Louisiana earlier this week. Robinson gave his signed Knicks jersey to Chalmette High School principal Wayne Warner.

The Knicks have until June 30 to sign Robinson to a contract extension worth up to $58 million over four years. In a pre-taped interview before the Knicks’ final regular-season game, team president Leon Rose indicated their interest in bringing back Robinson.

“With Mitchell (Robinson), there have been ongoing discussions throughout the year with his agent,” Rose said. “And those discussions will continue for the remainder of the time until free agency.”

It only confirmed the earlier SNY report that both camps are not close to a potential extension.

The Detroit Pistons have been long viewed as the Knicks’ strongest rival for Robinson’s services. They will be in the market for a starting center to pair with Cade Cunningham. They have around $25.5 million in cap space to spend in the free agency.

If the Knicks are heavily associated with Creative Artists Agency, where Rose previously headed their basketball division, the Pistons are known to have close ties with the Wasserman Group.

Arn Tellem was the vice-chairman of the Wasserman Group before he joined the Pistons in the same capacity. George David, a close friend of Knicks GM Scott Perry, has also rejoined the Pistons this season as assistant general manager after spending six years as senior vice president of the Wasserman Group’s basketball division.

The Knicks’ advantage over the Pistons is they have Robinson’s Bird rights, meaning they can go over the cap to sign him after he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If Robinson becomes too rich for their blood, they can do a sign-and-trade in a possible swap with Dallas Mavericks’ point guard Jalen Brunson.

Robinson may be looking to cash in his best season yet, where he played 72 of the 82 games. After a slow start to the season following two serious injuries last year, Robinson had a strong finish averaging a career-best 8.5 points on 76.1 percent field goal shooting and 8.6 rebounds.

Perhaps Robinson’s camp is eyeing a contract in the vicinity of Robert Williams’ $52 million, four-year extension with the Boston Celtics.

Before he burst into the NBA as a second-round steal in the 2019 NBA Draft, Robinson starred for Chalmette and led the Owls to their first state playoff win during his junior year. As a senior, Robinson led them to their first district championship in their regular-season tournament in 20 years, first district title in 21 years in the toughest basketball district in the state, and to the state semifinals for the first time in 32 years.

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Toppin, Quickley show glimpse of Knicks’ future; Robinson Detroit-bound?

Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley have been inseparable since the New York Knicks drafted them in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft.

Quickley is a regular in the Toppin’s family events. He’s spent Christmas with them. In return, Quickley has been calling Toppin in ungodly hours (as late as 2 a.m.) to invite him to shoot at the gym. So, it wasn’t surprising that their on-court chemistry is off the charts.

On Sunday, as the Knicks’ disappointing season came to a close, that chemistry was on full display. Toppin and Quickley fed off each other’s career games leading the Knicks to a momentum-building 105-94 win over the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors.

“It’s crazy because me and Quick rode up here together and said let’s do something special,” said Toppin. “Me and him were literally in the car driving here saying we were going to do that. To have the opportunity to do what we did today was amazing.”

Toppin had reset his career-high in scoring in four of their last five games. He saved his best for last, finishing with 42 points and 10 rebounds. Quickley was not to be outdone.  The firebrand guard recorded his second career triple-double, putting up career-highs in points (34) and assists (12) and matching his career-best in rebounds (10).

“He said, ‘I am about to go crazy,’ and I was like, ‘I am about to go crazy, too,’” Quickley said of his pregame drive conversation with Toppin. “He wasn’t saying that type of stuff early in the season. So, for him to just come in before the game and say stuff like that, that’s when I know Obi is feeling himself a little bit.”

Toppin averaged 27.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists over his last five games of the season or since starting in place of Julius Randle, who was shut down with a sore quad.

On the other hand, Quickley became the youngest Knick in history to post a 30-point triple-double after he was inserted into the starting lineup for RJ Barrett, who sprained his right knee in the previous game.

The duo put on a show in front of a sellout crowd of 19,812 who came to witness the Knicks play one last time this season.

Toppin dazzled the crowd with an array of Slam Dunk competition-worthy jams and continued to flaunt his much-improved outside shot. He was 6 for 14 against the Raptors. Over his last five starts, Toppin had been shooting a mind-boggling 46.3 percent on 8.2 attempts from the long distance.

Toppin credited his newfound weapon to his growing confidence since he was thrust into a bigger role and no longer had to look over his shoulder when he messed something on the court.

“As my confidence got better, it became like as soon as I catch the ball, if I’m open, I’m going to shoot it,” Toppin said. “And I’m not thinking. I’m just playing basketball.”

On the other hand, Quickley’s growth as a playmaker had been the Knicks’ focus since the Summer League. It was rewarding for the Knicks coaching staff and front office to see Quickley grow right before their eyes.

“Absolutely,” Quickley’s replied when asked if he thought he was a better player now than in fall. “And that’s just from putting work every day and trying to come in with a mindset to get better and ask questions.”

“Big shoutout to my coaches — Erm (Darren Erman), me, and JB (Johnnie Bryant) work 20, 15 minutes after every practice. So, just trying to work and get better every day. That’s the biggest thing.”

Quickley had his second triple-double and third double-digit assist over his last five games. Toppin and Quickley’s strong finish to the season has mirrored the Knicks’ success. They ended the season with an 8-4 record over their last 12 games. Since the All-Star break, they have been 12-11, giving them momentum to build upon this summer.

“We had goals on making the playoffs and doing better than we did last year. But obviously, we didn’t,” Quickley said. “We didn’t get to where we wanted to, but down the stretch, I think guys got better, more confident. And you’ve seen that [Sunday]. We’re having a lot of fun.

“But obviously, we want to get better this summer and come back and do better as a group. That’s the biggest thing.”

Two-way rookie center Jericho Sims also grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds along with six points and two steals, giving the Knicks another second-round steal after Mitchell Robinson, who might bolt out this summer as a free agent. The Knicks have until June 30 to strike an extension, which team president Leon Rose said they would and have been doing with Robinson’s agent Thad Foucher of the Wasserman Group.

The Detroit Pistons have been long viewed as the Knicks’ strongest rival for Robinson’s services. They have around $25.5 million in cap space to spend in the free agency.

If the Knicks are heavily associated with Creative Artists Agency, where Rose previously headed their basketball division, the Pistons are known to have close ties with the Wasserman Group.

Arn Tellem was the vice-chairman of the Wasserman Group before he joined the Pistons in the same capacity. George David, a close friend of Knicks GM Scott Perry, has also rejoined the Pistons this season as assistant general manager after spending six years as senior vice president of the Wasserman Group’s basketball division.

Even if Robinson heads to the Pistons or elsewhere, the Knicks still have a makeup of a young, exciting team with eight players who are 24 and under, led by the 21-year old Barrett, 24-year old Toppin, and 22-year old Quickley.

“We’re not in the playoffs. That was our goal. We wanted to be in the playoffs. We wanted to take a step. But I feel that since the All-Star break, the team has shown some momentum and good signs,” Rose said. “We’ve been 11-11. We’ve won eight out of our last 13. And the opportunities that have been given to the guys you just referred to have been — these guys have gotten an opportunity and taken advantage of it. And for us, that’s very exciting.”

Then Toppin and Quickley proceeded to add more credence to Rose’s optimism.

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As next contract looms, Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson faces acid test vs Rudy Gobert

All eyes will be on Donovan Mitchell when the Utah Jazz visit the New York Knicks Sunday night in a critical matchup for both teams.

Mitchell, the native New Yorker who grew up in Westchester County, has been perpetually linked to the Knicks ever since they pried away Johnnie Bryant, his mentor in Utah, and Walter Perrin, the draft guru who moved heaven and earth to trade up for the Jazz star on draft night.

But while Mitchell will be the apple of the eye of most Knicks fans on Sunday, their own Mitchell — Mitchell Robinson — will have an acid test that may decide his future with the team.

Robinson’s future is hanging over the Knicks’ cloudy season. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent as his camp, and the Knicks couldn’t agree to an extension. They have until June 30 to strike a deal, and this matchup against the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert will carry much weight.

Gobert was absent when Robinson dominated whatever was left in the Jazz frontline last month. Robinson went off for a career-high 21 rebounds, 19 points, three blocks, and two steals in a performance worthy of a lucrative multi-year extension.

That’s the Robinson conundrum. Against backup bigs, he is a dominant force. But against elite big men, he still has a lot to prove.

Robinson had a zero-point dud against Bam Adebayo nearly three weeks after his career night in Salt Lake City. He also fouled against Karl-Anthony Towns in January, producing only six points and eight rebounds in a Knicks’ loss. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic toyed around him also last January. His four-point and six-rebound effort was a head-scratcher.

On Sunday night, Robinson will brace for a big test. Gobert is coming off four straight monster games. His last two led to Jazz’s back-to-back win.  He had 14 points, 20 rebounds, and four blocks against the Bulls last Wednesday. Gobert gobbled up the Los Angeles Clippers two nights later with 16 points, 19 assists, and two blocks.

For his part, Robinson came up big Friday night against the Washington Wizards. He churned up 15 points and 12 rebounds after a pair of duds against Brooklyn and Portland. Robinson played a pivotal in the fourth quarter, where the Knicks built a 15-point lead and held on for a three-point win. He scored seven points, made all three free throws, and grabbed three rebounds.

“Huge, huge, huge,” Thibodeau said of Robinson’s performance against the Wizards. “Making those two free throws, those effort plays inspire your team. Our rebounding has been off the charts. That’s a big part of winning.”

The Knicks have won five of their last seven games, with Robinson producing four double-doubles. He had five over their last eight games. The Knicks have been the top defensive team in the league over their last seven games, netting 102.6 defensive rating in that span. Robinson was a huge part of it, and the Knicks’ found a stable backup in rookie Jericho Sims, who is holding up his own.

“Mitch has great feet. I think there are situations that allow us to switch. We can trap. Jericho has great feet. And I thought Jericho’s minutes were very productive,” Thibodeau said.

Sims averaged 2.9 points and 6.3 rebounds in only 14.8 minutes over the Knicks’ last seven games. But the Knicks have been winning the Sims minutes, outscoring their opponents by 7.1 points. In contrast, Robinson has a negative 1.0 net rating despite his big numbers: 8.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks.

Robinson and Sims will take turns on Gobert. But Robinson, with his next contract hanging in the balance, is expected to show up with a big chip on his shoulder.

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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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Jericho Sims’ development crucial as Mitchell Robinson, Knicks continue contract extension talks

New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau harped about player development before the NBA All-Star break. He followed through by using their two-way player, rookie center Jericho Sims as Mitchell Robinson’s backup for two straight games.

But the timing of the multiple reports about the stalemate in Robinson’s contract extension talks put more weight on the importance of the Sims’ development moving forward.

An SNY report confirmed that Robinson’s camp did not accept a much lower offer than the $48 million, four-year max extension the Knicks could give.

“In at least one of the conversations between the Knicks and Robinson’s representation before the deadline, the team and player were “not close” on the terms, per an SNY source,” Ian Begley wrote.

“I’d be lying if I told you I knew the exact numbers discussed at the time. But a source familiar with the talks said one of New York’s offers wasn’t close to the max that the club can offer Robinson via extension,” Begley added.

Robinson can walk away as an unrestricted free agent after June 30 if nothing materializes with the Knicks, although it’s still possible he could be signed and traded.

The Knicks have created a baseline after signing Nerlens Noel to a $32 million, three-year deal (last year as club option) in the offseason. But the Noel signing proved to be a mistake as the veteran center played only 25 games in an injury-riddled first season of the contract.

So, are the Knicks taking an extended look at Sims to prepare for Robinson’s potential departure?

Sims played admirably against Joel Embiid. He registered 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and a blocked shot before fouling out in 18 minutes. He failed to score over his last two games, but the late second-round pick averaged 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.0 steal in 18.0 minutes.

“I thought the rebounding was really good, and look, Embiid’s a lot to deal with. You’re not guarding him individually. You have to guard him with your team,” Thibodeau said about Sims’ solid performance against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“And so, I think [Sims] is still learning, and he’s going to get better in time. But there’s a physicality to that. It’s not easy to deal with. [Embiid] is strong. He’s quick, and he’s skilled.”

Sims played ahead of veteran Taj Gibson, a Thibodeau lifer. Noel was technically available, but Thibodeau opted to rest him to get back to full health after reportedly nursing plantar fasciitis.

“I want him to go through some practices first before we throw him back,” Thibodeau. 

Noel was in and out of the lineup due to an assortment of injuries.

“We wanted to look at Jericho. But we like all of them. There’ll probably be a rotation there,” Thibodeau said.

As Sims entered the rotation, Robinson continued to struggle. Over his last three games, Robinson is only averaging 2.7 points and 6.7 rebounds, including a scoreless performance against the Eastern Conference’s top team Miami Heat. But the 23-year old center admitted he lost focus during that stretch as his father, Mitchell Robinson Jr., went missing.

“He was in Missouri. He could have told us. But I guess he needs some time to [do] stuff. I’m happy that he’s found safe. Now I can just focus back on what I need to be worried about right now. That’s a little weight off my shoulders,” Robinson said about his father and the ordeal he went through over the last two weeks.

But maybe there’s more to it after his cryptic Instagram story. But he clapped back at a Knicks fan who accused him of trying to get paid that’s “why he’s pushing the narrative that the coach is holding him back.”

Robinson is eager to atone himself after a six-point, four-rebound effort in 17 minutes before fouling out against Embiid. His first crack at redemption goes through Embiid again, and the 76ers on Wednesday as the Knicks embark on a seven-game road trip.

“I should have been more focused and ready to play. I should just play better. I’m going to take that L,” Robinson said.

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Robinson’s contract extension talks cast large shadow over Knicks’ fall to dominant Embiid, 76ers

Joel Embiid destroyed both Mitchell Robinson and rookie Jericho Sims while James Harden notched a triple-double.

The new 76ers star duo was unstoppable in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 125-109 win over the New York Knicks Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The 76ers used a 19-4 closing run to break away from a tight 106-105 lead with 7:01 left.

It was the Knicks’ 15th loss in the last 18 games as they continue to fade from the play-in scenario and fall into the NBA Draft lottery range.

Embiid and Harden played off each other, combining for 33 of the 76ers’ NBA season-high 39 free throws. There was nothing the Knicks could do to stop them.

“Unstoppable,” Embiid told reporters after the game describing his two-man game with Harden.

Embiid was dominant with 37 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. He made a living at the stripes, sinking 23 out of 27 free throws. Harden matched his season-high in assists with 16 to add to his 29 points and 10 rebounds. The 76ers improved to 2-0 with Harden in the lineup since the blockbuster trade deadline swap with Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and future picks.

Robinson and Sims fouled out consecutively early in the fourth quarter to hasten the Knicks’ demise.

Sims played admirably, filling in for backup center Nerlens Noel, who is reportedly nursing a plantar fasciitis injury. Sims grabbed 10 rebounds — all in the first half — and added two assists, one steal, and one block in more than 18 minutes on the floor. But he fouled out with 9:14 left.

A little more than 20 seconds later, Robinson soon followed. Robinson went out with an underwhelming performance anew. He finished with only six points and four rebounds in more than 16 minutes.

Before the game, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Robinson’s ongoing contract extension talks with the Knicks are becoming a cause of concern.

“For the Knicks, Greeny (Mike Greenberg), the looming free agency of their 23-year-old starting center, Mitchell Robinson—it’s a concern for New York,” Wojnarowski said in the NBA Countdown. “They’ve had talks with his agent, Thad Foucher, about an extension throughout the season. The Knicks can pay Robinson, under the collective bargaining agreement, four years and upward of $48 million before June 30. They’ve not reached an agreement on that, and it’s unclear that they will before free agency when Robinson will be unrestricted.”

Robinson already strung up three consecutive duds that started with a two-point, seven-rebound performance against Drummond and the Brooklyn Nets before the All-Star break. He was held scoreless for the first time this season against Bam Adebayo and Miami Heat last Friday. It coincided with the reports of Robinson’s father went missing for close to two weeks before being found safely earlier this week in Missouri.

Robinson posted a cryptic post on his Instagram story following his scoreless performance against the Heat.

The Knicks have resisted dealing Robinson at the trade deadline despite reportedly drawing interests from several teams, including the Detroit Pistons, who will have plenty of cap space this summer, according to an SNY report.

RJ Barrett and Evan Fournier led the Knicks with 24 apiece.

Barrett continued his ascent with another solid game to follow up his career-high 46-point effort. He added five rebounds and six assists, but his foul shooting woes continued making only 6 of 10 free throws. Fournier was limited to only one field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, which he missed, after torching the 76ers with six treys in the first three quarters.

Immanuel Quickley came out of his shooting funk and exploded for 21 points, but it was not enough to bail out the Knicks. Julius Randle finished with a quiet 16 points while adding 10 rebounds and seven assists.

The Knicks slumped to 11 games under .500 (25-36) and 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final play-in spot with 21 games left. They will face the 76ers again on Wednesday to begin their make-or-break seven-game road trip that will conclude against their crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets two Sundays from now.

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Knicks injury update: Grimes to be re-evaluated in 2 weeks, Rose may return in 1-2 weeks

New York Knicks dodged a bullet as rookie Quentin Grimes avoided surgery after a scary knee injury Friday night against Miami Heat.

Grimes will only need rest and undergo physical therapy to heal the subluxation of his right patella, according to multiple reports, and was first reported by Sports Illustrated’s Ashley Nicole Moss.

Shortly, the Knicks announced that the 3-and-D rookie would be re-evaluated in two weeks.

It could have been worse.

Grimes suffered the injury with 2:30 remaining in the first quarter. Video replayed showed Grimes was trying to fight off a PJ Tucker screen on the baseline moments after he checked in. He immediately grabbed his knee and was visibly in pain.

Grimes had been one of the few bright spots in what is quickly turning out to be a lost season for the Knicks. He’s averaging 6.3 points on 39.8 percent shooting behind the arc while providing the toughness on defense that earned him a rotation spot under Tom Thibodeau.

Meanwhile, there is optimism that Derrick Rose can return in one to two weeks, according to top ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Rose underwent a minor procedure on his right ankle Friday to address a skin infection in the area of his December surgery. The motivation to bring back Rose immediately might not be as strong as it was earlier, as the Knicks are quickly fading from contention.

They lost for the 14th time in their last 17 games and are now 10 games under .500 despite RJ Barrett’s career-high 46-point effort against the Heat. The Knicks are 3.5 games behind Atlanta Hawks for the final play-in spot with 22 games left, most of them against teams over .500.

Only three other players scored in double figures aside from Barrett. Center Mitchell Robinson was held scoreless and only attempted once in a one-sided matchup against Heat center Bam Adebayo, who had 16 points and 16 rebounds. It was Robinson’s first game since his father, Mitchell Robinson, Jr., was found safe in Missouri Tuesday morning after being reported missing since Feb. 11.

Following his first zero-point effort in the season, Robinson posted a video on his Instagram story, which appears to be a veiled shot at Knicks coaching staff. The video shows Charlotte Hornets center, Miles Plumlee, attacking the paint off the dribble, and Robinson put a cryptic caption: “I love it…. green light.”

Robinson was exclusively scoring off putbacks and lobs since he was drafted in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft. He showed flashes of brilliance against weaker competition but frequently got overmatched against the elite big men in the league.

The 23-year old Robinson is eligible to sign a contract extension up to four years, $55.6 million before the end of the season. But the Knicks appear reluctant to pay him that much. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer but could be signed and traded to a new team.

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