Mitchell Robinson

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 SNY.tv 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.

Knicks Notes: M. Jackson, Paul, Aller, Robinson

Former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson admits he dreams of getting another NBA coaching opportunity, but added that he won’t be upset if it doesn’t happen, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. During an appearance this week on ESPN’s First Take, Jackson talked about his experiences in Golden State and shared his opinions on other head coaches, including Steve Kerr and Tom Thibodeau.

[RELATED: Mark Jackson Says He Wants To Coach Again]

Jackson, who grew up in New York City and played for the Knicks, was a candidate to take over the team before David Fizdale was hired two years ago. Begley isn’t certain how strongly he would be considered if the Knicks decide to replace interim coach Mike Miller, but adds that Jackson still has supporters in the organization. Jackson is reportedly being considered by the Nets as well and has a strong relationship with Rich Kleiman, Kevin Durant‘s business partner and manager.

Begley also notes that Jackson wanted to hire his current broadcast partner, Jeff Van Gundy, who is also under consideration to become the Knicks coach, as his top assistant with the Warriors.

There’s more from New York:

  • The financial fallout from the NBA’s hiatus may make it easier for the Knicks to trade for a star such as Thunder guard Chris Paul, suggests Marc Berman of The New York Post. Paul was the favorite client of new president of basketball operations Leon Rose when he was an agent, Berman points out, and his huge contract might make him available. Paul remains an elite point guard at age 35, but is owed $41.4MM next season and $44.2MM in 2020/21. With the salary cap expected to fall, the luxury tax will be a greater concern than ever and sources tell Berman that some teams will be eager to move their larger contracts.
  • Newly-hired VP of strategy Brock Aller spent more than a month consulting with associates before deciding to leave the Cavaliers for the Knicks, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Cleveland general manager Koby Altman wanted Aller to stay with the organization where he spent the past 15 years, but Aller decided the chance to be part of a historic turnaround in New York was too good to pass up.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at center Mitchell Robinson to determine how much he can improve after two years in the league.

Atlantic Notes: Robinson, Knicks, Sixers, Celtics

Despite playing in just his second NBA season, Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson is already on his fifth agent since going pro, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details. Robinson signed with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports earlier this year, and Paul is confident that he can provide the sort of stable representation that will alleviate some concerns for the young center.

“When you get the right representation, there’s an ease that comes to your mind that allows you to focus on other things,” Paul told Berman. “It’s hard to sleep with both eyes closed in this business. It’s a lot more mental than people think.”

With a non-guaranteed salary for 2020/21 and a team option for ’21/22, Robinson is still a ways away from reaching free agency. However, Paul sounds as if he’s looking forward to eventually negotiating a second contract for the big man with new Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose, who previously represented Klutch’s current star client, LeBron James.

“He’ll shoot me straight when it comes to Mitchell and I’ll shoot him straight,” Paul said of Rose. “The Knicks know what’s best for him. They see him as a future guy. Leon knows the game. He’ll handle that properly.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • After declaring for the 2020 draft, potential lottery pick Cole Anthony – who grew up in New York – told Zach Braziller of The New York Post that he’d welcome the chance to play for the Knicks. “It would be pretty cool,” Anthony said. “I was a fan for a good amount of time. I do like the Knicks. I think they definitely can use a guard, a good scoring point guard.” As Braziller notes, the former Tar Heel added that he’d be fine dropping several spots in the draft if it means landing with a team that’s an ideal fit for him.
  • Appearing on The Sixers Beat podcast with Derek Bodner and Rich Hofmann of The Athletic, former Sixers sharpshooter J.J. Redick said he doesn’t believe head coach Brett Brown should be made the scapegoat for any issues in Philadelphia (audio clip). “I would love to play for Brett again,” Redick said. “I don’t think Brett is the problem, if there’s a problem. Sometimes things maybe just don’t work.”
  • A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston revisits the Celtics‘ 2019 draft decisions, exploring whether the team should have gone in a different direction with any of its four selections.

Atlantic Notes: Knox, Durant, Robinson, Hayward

The league’s hiatus has made it much more difficult for new Knicks president Leon Rose to evaluate Kevin Knox, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Rose was unable to get a closer look at the second-year forward and doesn’t know if the 20-year-old is part of the team’s future, Berman adds. Rose must decide prior to the start of next season whether to pick up Knox’s $5.84MM fourth-year option.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Kevin Durant‘s agent and business partner, Rich Kleiman, said it’s unrealistic to think his client can return to action from his Achilles injury this summer, he told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix. This reiterates what Kleiman said in an ESPN interview last month about the Nets forward. “I promise you, Kevin and I have not talked about that. And I know it sounds crazy, but my assumption has been that wasn’t very realistic,” Kleiman said to Mannix.
  • Mitchell Robinson‘s development may be the biggest argument to remove the interim tag from Knicks coach Mike Miller, Berman writes in a separate story. Robinson has emerged as a foundation piece, according to Berman, and his high school coach, Butch Stockton, believes Miller is primarily responsible for that. “The Knicks have done a real good job developing him and getting toward to his full potential,” Stockton said.
  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward said the hiatus has allowed him to heal up from lingering knee and foot injuries, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reports. “That’s one positive from this whole thing is everybody’s been able to recover,” Hayward said. “We haven’t been able to do much, so hopefully everyone is healthy whenever and if ever we get back this year. … This has been good for everybody’s body.”

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Kanter, Robinson, Musa

Sixers center Joel Embiid is joining forces with team managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer on a $1.3MM contribution to fund testing for 1,000 health care workers in the Philadelphia region, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports. The donation has been confirmed in a team press release.

Embiid said he learned that “testing for COVID-19 antibodies has the chance to let health care workers know if they are immune to the virus.” The big man notes that the workers who have immunity can work in “risky environments” and donate blood to help patients recover. Embiid’s partnership with team ownership should quell speculation that he has a fractious relationship with the organization which could eventually lead to his departure.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics center Enes Kanter remains hopeful that the remainder of the season, or at least the playoffs, can be played, The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach writes. “We are competitors man, so we want to go out there and finish the season,’‘ Kanter said on Zoom. “Especially, like, it’s crazy — we actually have a really good chance to go out there and win a championship.”
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson might have the league’s most team-friendly contract, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The big man has a $1.66MM salary for next season with a $1.8MM team option for 2021/22, Berman notes. The Knicks’ net rating improves by 5.3 points per 100 possessions with Robinson on the court, Berman adds.
  • The Nets’ European players — Dzanan Musa, Rodions Kurucs and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot — have been separated from their families indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. Travel restrictions prevent them from reuniting with their families. “They are coping, and their families are coping with this. But that’s really difficult,” Nets GM Sean Marks said. “Their families are completely separated. They’re not in the same time zone, they’re in completely different countries, and obviously there is a travel ban in place.”

Fizdale Believes Knicks Need To Add Power Forward With Range

Although they did win two of three before the NBA suspended the season, the Knicks weren’t having the best 2019/20 campaign. Former coach David Fizdale, who New York fired back in December, believes the team can improve via free agency this offseason by targeting a point guard and a power forward with range.

“I think that if the Knicks can find those pieces in free agency,” Fizdale said on ESPN Radio recently (h/t Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News). “So the next year or two years from now, that big free agent comes through says, ‘Wait a minute, they got these pieces in place, these guys are now starting to get into the playoffs, eighth seed, seventh seed.

That’s the team I want to join in New York City, in the Garden, that could take us to another level.’”

Three-point shooting has been an issue for the club this entire season. Only three teams, the Hawks, Warriors, and Timberwolves, shot a worse percentage from three-point land than the Knicks this year.

“Just looking at the roster where they’re at — I love Elfrid (Payton), Frank (Ntilikina), and Dennis Smith Jr. — but all of them have something in common in that they’re not consistent 3-point shooters coming off the pick-and-roll,”

The coach added that he believes Mitchell Robinson can reach great heights if he continues to develop.

“And if you have a super talent like Mitchell — and I think Mitchell can end up being one of the best centers over the next ten years — you have to have a guy coming off that pick and if you have to fight over that pick and roll,” Fizdale said. “And if you do that, all of a sudden Mitchell Robinson looks totally different. And his production goes up big time.

“The other piece to that puzzle is a 4-man who can really rope that 3… Like I’ve always said, the key to player development is spacing. You want to see players look better on the court, spread the floor.”

New York Notes: Coronavirus, Knicks’ Future, Chandler, Nets

The Knicks aren’t among the eight teams that have been ordered by the NBA to undergo coronavirus testing, tweets Steve Popper of Newsday. Madison Square Garden released a statement today explaining the status of the team and the NHL’s Rangers.

“We have been following the recommendations of local and national health officials and continue to monitor our players closely,” the statement reads. “As of now, with our players remaining asymptomatic, none of them have been tested for COVID-19. We will remain in close contact with health officials and the NBA and NHL.” (Twitter link).

It was revealed yesterday that four members of the cross-town Nets tested positive for the coronavirus, with Kevin Durant the only one who has been identified. As of this morning, 1,339 people in New York City have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.

There’s more from New York City:

  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic expects a lot of turnover on the Knicks‘ roster during the next three seasons, with RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson the only players likely to remain in New York the entire time. Vorkunov expects Dennis Smith Jr. to be traded during the offseason, possibly for a second-round pick, just to get rid of his contract. The draft lottery will be filled with point guards, so a prospect may be the long-term answer, rather than Frank Ntilikina. An extensive roster turnover could come by the summer of 2021 as the Knicks have four first-round picks over the next two drafts.
  • In the wake of the Nets’ positive tests, Wilson Chandler tweeted that the manager of the building where he lives has asked him to keep away from common areas. “Building manager called me saying ‘Oh, I seen Nets players had the virus. We would like to know your status. And if you could possibly stay out of the lobby etc. We can’t afford to lose our staff,’” Chandler wrote. He adds that she didn’t ask specifically if he had been tested.
  • In case you missed it earlier, the Nets are defending their decision to have the entire team tested for coronavirus, saying some players were showing symptoms and all the testing was done through a private facility.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Front Office, Anthony, Robinson

Leon Rose will be faced with plenty of important decisions as he takes over as president of basketball operations for the Knicks, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. The first priority will be to sort out the front office. Many of the executives and scouts brought in by general manager Scott Perry and former team president Steve Mills are expected to be replaced, Popper states. Even though Rose has relationships with several of them through his time as an agent, a source tells Popper that a “house-cleaning” could be on the way.

Perry’s future is also in doubt, even though he has been running the team since Mills was fired four weeks ago. Popper notes that Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas has been mentioned as a possible target for the new front office, with the Raptors‘ Bobby Webster and the ClippersMike Winger also among the potential executives of interest. Members of Rose’s CAA agency might be brought in to help with scouting ahead of the draft.

In the coaching search, Popper expects Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy to be among the biggest names under consideration. Interim coach Mike Miller may be offered a chance to remain with the team as an assistant. The Knicks could also be active on the trade market with six free agents who signed last summer holding small guarantees for 2020/21.

There’s more from New York:

  • A report on Wednesday indicated that today would officially be Rose’s first day on the job in New York, but Frank Isola of The Athletic says (via Twitter) that will actually happen on Monday. Isola contends (via Twitter) that Rose will have to get the front office under control, since the “jockeying, maneuvering and backstabbing is at an all-time high.”
  • The hiring of Rose provides a perfect opportunity to bring Carmelo Anthony back to the organization, contends George Willis of The New York Post. Anthony remains popular in New York and could provide a valuable veteran presence for the team’s young core, Willis states. Rose served as Carmelo’s agent at CAA.
  • Although Mitchell Robinson is putting up the best numbers of his career, the Knicks have no plans to move him into the starting lineup, relays Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Robinson is averaging 14.0 PPG and shooting 81% over his last seven games. Still, Miller wants to keep him in a reserve role behind Taj GibsonTaj has gotten us off to great starts,” Miller said. “Sometimes it’s a matchup… But for the most part it’s because Mitchell is so effective in the role that he’s playing. We just haven’t been put in a situation where we think it’s time to change it.”
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic examines the Knicks’ unusual philosophy on player development and questions whether it’s wise to continue, considering the results.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Houston, Wooten, Robinson

Nearly three weeks after reportedly reaching an agreement to bring him aboard, the Knicks still haven’t made it official with incoming president of basketball operations Leon Rose. However, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that an official announcement confirming the hiring of the veteran agent is expected to happen next week.

The official arrival of Rose, who has been tying up loose ends at his longtime agency CAA, could bring about some changes, according to Berman, who notes that the new president of basketball operations may encourage interim head coach Mike Miller to increase Knicks youngsters’ playing time. As Berman notes, Miller said on Monday that he speaks frequently with interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry, but hasn’t yet had a conversation with Rose.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Following up on a recent report that executive Allan Houston is expected to receive a promotion, Berman says that Houston already received one unreported promotion late last season, having been named special assistant to the GM. A source tells Berman that Houston is tight with Rose and William Wesley (“World Wide Wes”), who figures to become an unofficial advisor.
  • A torn ligament in his left thumb is expected to sideline Knicks two-way player Kenny Wooten for at least six weeks, Berman writes in a separate New York Post story. As such, it remains to be seen whether the shot-blocking rookie will get an opportunity to make his NBA debut this season. If he doesn’t, that’s probably fine with the Knicks — sources tell Berman the club signed him to his two-way deal last month primarily to prevent another team from poaching him from New York’s G League affiliate.
  • Miller is happy with what he has seen from second-year center Mitchell Robinson, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “He’s very important,” Miller said of Robinson. “… He’s a high-energy guy. That’s a skill. He can play at high energy now. He’s matured and grown more, extended those minutes where he is impacting the game at a high level.”
  • In case you missed it on Monday, we passed along a report indicating that the Knicks aren’t planning on buying out any of their veteran players.

Eastern Conference Notes: Thompson, Sixers, Horford, Knicks

Kevin Love doesn’t want to see long-time teammate Tristan Thompson get traded, but he understands it might be the best move for both him and the organization, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Cavaliers are reportedly seeking a first-round pick in return for Thompson, who will be a free agent this summer. If Cleveland can’t find an acceptable deal, management still has interest in re-signing the 28-year-old center or possibly working out a sign-and-trade.

“That’s my brother, man,” Love said. “I would always go to war with him. I would run through a wall for him. He’s the best. Just the type of guy he is, he’s a lifelong friend of mine, so it would be tough to see him go. I would like to have him around selfishly, but if there’s a better situation out there for him, going to make him happier, have a chance to win a championship, then so be it. I only know Tristan Thompson as a Cavalier and I like it that way.”

There’s more from the Eastern Conference as the trade deadline draws nearer:

  • Trey Burke, Kyle O’Quinn and Jonah Bolden were all absent from the Sixers‘ shootaround this morning, tweets Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Philadelphia has to trim two players from its roster by 3pm Eastern to complete a trade that will bring Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III from the Warriors in exchange for three second-round draft picks.
  • Al Horford hinted at trouble in the Sixers‘ locker room in comments after Wednesday’s practice, relays Jon Johnson of KYW Radio (Twitter link). “There’s some stuff going on in our locker room,” Horford said, “and we’ll keep that internal.”
  • A pair of Knicks youngsters have signed with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports for representation. Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports (via Twitter) that Mitchell Robinson is one of Paul’s newest clients, while Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter) says Allonzo Trier has joined Klutch Sports too.