Knicks Rumors: Robinson, Bell, Maker, Cousins, Whiteside

The Knicks‘ contract with Mitchell Robinson allows the team to retain the young center in 2021/22 for just $1.8MM, assuming his option is exercised. But in that scenario, he’d become an unrestricted free agent in ’22. New York could assert more control over Robinson’s free agency by turning down the team option and issuing a qualifying offer to make him restricted this summer.

Now that a broken foot is likely to sideline Robinson for the rest of the 2020/21 season, Marc Berman of The New York Post cites league sources who believe the Knicks’ decision has become simpler — the club doesn’t have enough information yet on Robinson to send him to free agency so soon, those sources say, arguing that picking up his option for ’21/22 is the right move.

Exercising Robinson’s team option would still allow the Knicks to negotiate a possible extension during his contract year. In that scenario, they could go as high as about $54MM over four years with a straight extension offer, or even higher with a renegotiation-and-extension. However, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tells Berman that he’d be surprised if New York is that aggressive in extension talks.

“Coming off a serious injury, I’m not paying him what Christian Wood got in Houston,” Marks said, referring to Wood’s three-year, $41MM contract with the Rockets. Marks suggests something in the three-year, $30MM range would be more realistic.

One source tells Berman that he believes the Mavericks will have interest in Robinson if and when he reaches free agency.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • With Robinson out, the Knicks will probably add a center for “insurance” purposes, per head coach Tom Thibodeau, Berman writes in the same story. Berman confirms a previous report that John Henson and Norvel Pelle are among the options being considered by the club and says New York has also had internal talks about Jordan Bell, Thon Maker, DeMarcus Cousins, and Hassan Whiteside.
  • Cousins appears likely to join the Clippers for at least 10 days, while Whiteside – a buyout candidate – remains a King for now. Berman notes that the Knicks’ brass likes the team’s chemistry and would want a player who fits “seamlessly” into the locker room, so Cousins and Whiteside may be lower on the wish list for that reason anyway.
  • While the Knicks seem likely to add a center, Nerlens Noel believes he and Taj Gibson are capable of handling the five in Robinson’s absence, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “I feel like we have it covered, but that’s not my department,” Noel said. “That’s (the front office’s choice). … If Coach, management wants to add another piece, that’s all up to them. I definitely feel we’re comfortable with what we have. “We have depth in Kevin (Knox) and Obi (Toppin) staying available at the four, five spots and that helps as well, so I like the versatility we have.”
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