Knicks players were crushed to learn that center Mitchell Robinson suffered another serious injury Saturday night, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Playing his second game back in the starting lineup, the third-year center got hurt midway through the first quarter when he tried for a steal attempt. Robinson landed awkwardly and wound up with a fracture in his right root. The Knicks announced the injury to the public, but didn’t tell the players until after the game.
“He worked so hard to get back,” RJ Barrett said. “To see him go down again, it hurts us, hurts the team. But we’re just — we’re gonna be with him every step of the way until he gets back.”
The timing is particularly bad for New York, coming on the same night that word leaked that LaMarcus Aldridge plans to signs with the Nets and Andre Drummond appears headed to the Lakers. The Knicks have cap room to use on the buyout market, but the two biggest names are already likely committed.
“He’ll be fine,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of Robinson. “He’ll have to go through rehab and stuff, but he’s been through that before, and just maximize his time that way. But you feel for a teammate. It’s part of the game, and you have to deal with it as best you can.”
There’s more from New York:
- “One or two prominent voices” in the Knicks’ front office were in favor of pursuing Drummond before the organization cooled on the idea, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). He adds that the team had been hoping to use the rest of the season to evaluate how Robinson fits in Thibodeau’s system. If New York picks up Robinson’s $1.8MM team option for 2021/22, it would put him on track for unrestricted free agency in ’22. Begley states that Gorgui Dieng, Norvel Pelle and John Henson could be potential low-cost pickups for the Knicks, who have an open roster spot.
- Assistant coach Kenny Payne will remain in New York, even though DePaul had strong interest in making him its next head coach, Begley tweets.
- The Knicks were quiet at the trade deadline while teams around them in the standings made big moves, notes Steve Popper of Newsday. The organization has adopted a strategy of preserving its assets for the future, rather than gambling to make a playoff run this year.