Knicks Expect Mitchell Robinson To Miss Rest Of Season

The Knicks expect starting center Mitchell Robinson to miss the remainder of the 2023/24 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports that the team has applied for a disabled player exception in the wake of the news.

As Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets, disabled player exceptions are only granted if the NBA’s doctors believe a player is “substantially more likely than not” to be sidelined through June 15. Obviously, the Knicks would not have applied for the DPE if they thought he’d be back before then.

Robinson underwent left ankle surgery last week, with New York announcing that he would be reevaluated in eight-to-10 weeks. While the team never disclosed the exact nature of the injury, Stefan Bondy of The New York Post hears Robinson had a fracture that required screws to be inserted during the operation (Twitter link).

The 25-year-old sustained the ankle injury in the first half of a December 8 contest against Boston. He had an X-ray — which was negative, according to head coach Tom Thibodeau — and was able to play five minutes in the third quarter before sitting out the rest of the game.

It’s a devastating blow for Robinson, who has battled a variety of injuries throughout his six-year career. He was averaging 6.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks through 21 games (29.2 minutes).

The Knicks will be without one of the NBA’s premier offensive rebounders and their defensive anchor. Robinson played a major role in overpowering Cleveland’s frontcourt during the playoffs last season, with New York winning the first-round series in five games.

If granted, the disabled player exception would be worth $7,840,909, which is half of Robinson’s salary for ’23/24.

As Luke Adams explains in our glossary entry, the rules related to disable player exceptions are somewhat restrictive. For starters, it can only be used on a single player.

Essentially, a DPE gives a team the opportunity to add an injury replacement by either signing a player to a one-year contract, trading for a player in the final year of his contract, or placing a waiver claim on a player in the final year of his contract. However, the team must have room on its roster to sign the replacement player — the disabled player exception doesn’t allow the club to carry an extra man.

The Knicks currently have a full roster, but a few players, including Ryan Arcidiacono and DaQuan Jeffries, don’t have fully guaranteed contracts, so the team has some flexibility to move players in and out if necessary.

With Robinson out, Jericho Sims had been starting at center, but he’s expected to miss at least a week with a right ankle sprain. Isaiah Hartenstein has been receiving the bulk of the minutes in the middle though, and he started in Wednesday’s victory over Brooklyn, with Julius Randle and Taj Gibson also playing some minutes at the five.

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