Knicks Notes: Robinson, Ntilikina, Front Office

As a second-round pick in the 2018 draft, Mitchell Robinson came cheaper than a first-rounder, but his contract could create some complications if and when the Knicks look to extend him, as Mike Vorkunov and Danny Leroux of The Athletic explore.

Robinson has a non-guaranteed minimum salary for 2020/21 and a minimum-salary team option for 2021/22, making him a great bargain for the next two years. However, if the Knicks wait until the end of that four-year deal to try to re-sign him, Robinson will be eligible for unrestricted free agency and could sign with any team.

On the other hand, if the Knicks were to turn down Robinson’s fourth-year option and negotiate a new deal in the ’21 offseason, he’d be a restricted free agent, giving the team the opportunity to match any offer sheet he may sign.

As Vorkunov and Leroux observe, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets found themselves in a similar situation a couple years ago, and Denver opted to lock up its star center after his third year, significantly increasing his fourth-year cap hit but avoiding the risk of unrestricted free agency. Robinson isn’t on Jokic’s level, but it still may make sense for the Knicks to take a similar approach with their young big man to ensure they don’t lose him after his fourth year.

For now, Leroux estimates that Robinson might cost about $15MM per year on his next contract, but cautions the 22-year-old’s value could substantially increase or decline depending on his performance over the next year or so.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Within the above-linked piece, Vorkunov and Leroux discuss what Frank Ntilikina‘s next contract might look like, given his defensive strengths — and his offensive shortcomings. While they cite Dante Exum as one point of comparison, the Athletic’s duo notes that Exum’s three-year, $28.8MM deal with Utah ended up being an overpay. Leroux expects Ntilikina – a restricted free agent in 2021 – to get less than that.
  • In his latest mailbag, Ian Begley of examines how changes to the salary cap projection for 2020/21 might affect the Knicks, while also addressing the team’s coaching situation and a few other topics.
  • Nothing has been finalized yet, but sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link) that Knicks executives Craig Robinson, Gerald Madkins, and Harold Ellis are unlikely to be retained by new president of basketball operations Leon Rose.
  • In case you missed it, the Knicks are finalizing a pair of front office deals, with the team set to hire Walt Perrin and Frank Zanin as assistant general managers.
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8 thoughts on “Knicks Notes: Robinson, Ntilikina, Front Office

  1. Al Hirschen

    From CTV News Canada:12:00 pm: An agreement has been reached between Canada and the United States to keep the border closed to all non-essential travel for another month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced, calling it the “right thing” to do. He is cautioning that it could be months still before non-essential travel is allowed.

  2. Odd comment, Knicks notes vs. Border closure between Canada and the U.S. Is Mitchell Robinson stick in the Great White North? R.J. can’t get back to NYC?

  3. Rewane

    I thought a team cannot offer more than the team option if the team declines the team option for a rookie. So that rule is bypassed if an extension is signed?

    • Luke Adams

      That’s only on rookie scale contracts for first-round picks (where the team option decisions are made a year in advance).

      For a second-round pick like Robinson, his contract essentially functions like a veteran deal (it was signed using the mid-level exception), so that restriction doesn’t exist.

  4. KnickerbockerAl

    He is not worth 15 mill. Now comes the time. When your young talent are due for next contract. Kind of sucks when you devalue them by not developing. Mitch can’t stay out of foul trouble. Knicks probably move away from Randle. You don’t have a PG who takes care of your offense and bigs. So there is no clear picture now. It’s a shame this is our team, a professional franchise. I hope we get #1 pick, Wiseman. So it makes it easier to move Mitch. Either way it makes next yr. That much more important. To get right coach and be part of this evaluation. Hopefully from draft on. To me DSJ is not for NY. Not big on Frank either. I can be more patient with him. Randle needs to be moved, if you don’t want him. Don’t prolong it all season. This draft is the start of a big progress for Knicks. They better be ready and prepared. Pleeeeeaasseee

    • I don’t think Mitch is getting $15M a year with the expected cap crunch from COVID and the NBA’s continuing move away from the traditional Center.

      If the Knicks renegotiate at the end of year three, i could see 3 years/$30M being a reasonable number.

      Not sure who takes DSJ, any 2nd round pick offered should be taken by the club. Agree that they should move Randle, not sure what they get for him. Maybe with him being a de facto FA at the end of next year a club deals a better fit on a longer term contract for him like Rozier (Knicks would need to throw something in obviously), or someone like Thad Young with the Bulls looking to potentially shake things up a bit.

      I would give Frank a chance to work on his outside shot by having him practice off the ball this offseason to see if there is the potential for him to become a decent bench piece long term. If it doesn’t work, send him out at the deadline for whatever they can get.

  5. Frank has been one of the worst players in the league for three years by both traditional stats and advanced. Dante Exum’s deal was an overpay and yet he was and is a better player than Frank.

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