Mitchell Robinson

Hollinger’s Latest: CP3, Knicks, Fournier, Bulls, Rose, Pacers, More

There was talk last week that the Pelicans would be a serious suitor for Chris Paul in free agency, but that chatter seems to have faded, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who says the veteran point guard is now widely expected to re-sign with the Suns.

As Hollinger explains, he heard the Suns’ initial offer to Paul when the two sides were discussing a possible extension was somewhat “underwhelming,” but the club now appears prepared to offer a more serious package. No one around the league will be surprised if the total value of Paul’s new deal gets up to $100MM or more, Hollinger adds.

Here are several more free agent rumors from Hollinger:

  • Amidst rumors that Evan Fournier‘s price tag may be too high for the Celtics‘ liking, Hollinger suggests that the Knicks may be the team preparing to make an aggressive offer to the free agent wing. Hollinger adds that it’s worth keeping an eye on Mitchell Robinson and the Knicks, since a renegotiate-and-extend deal is a possibility for the two sides. That sort of agreement would give Robinson a raise for 2021/22 and lock him up for multiple seasons.
  • If the Bulls don’t land Lonzo Ball, one of their backup plans may be offering Derrick Rose a deal in the neighborhood of $12MM per year, says Hollinger.
  • Hollinger’s sources expect T.J. McConnell to stick with the Pacers for a deal worth around – or slightly above – the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.9MM), but the competition for Doug McDermott will be fiercer and Indiana will face tax issues if the team wants to re-sign both players without trimming salary elsewhere.
  • If Richaun Holmes‘ presumed suitors – such as Charlotte and Toronto – end up using their cap room in other ways, he might be squeezed in free agency, allowing the Kings to re-sign him despite only holding his Early Bird rights. If that scenario plays out, Hollinger expects Holmes to sign a two-year deal with a player option so that he can hit the open market again in 2022 with full Bird rights.
  • There hasn’t been much free agent chatter surrounding Nuggets guard Will Barton or Trail Blazers Norman Powell, according to Hollinger, who writes that teams seems to be assuming those two players will remain with their respective clubs.
  • It has been tricky to figure out what the Spurs plan to do with their projected cap room, says Hollinger. Daniel Theis is the most prominent free agent target Hollinger has heard linked to San Antonio.

Mitchell Robinson, Terance Mann, Kenyon Martin Jr. Receive Salary Guarantees

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson ($1.8MM), Clippers guard Terance Mann ($1.8MM) and Rockets guard Kenyon Martin Jr. ($1.5MM) all saw their 2021/22 salaries become fully guaranteed on Sunday, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Robinson had his team option picked up by the club on Saturday, but his salary for next season didn’t guarantee until today. The 23-year-old center played only 31 games for New York this season, averaging 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds in 27.5 minutes per contest.

Mann, 24, showed flashes of potential with the Clippers this past season. He was the team’s No. 48 pick in 2019 and averaged seven points per game in 2020/21, shooting 51% from the floor and 42% from three-point range.

Martin, a 20-year-old swingman, was selected by the Kings on behalf of the Rockets with the No. 52 overall pick in last year’s November draft, then signed a four-year contract with Houston. His $1.78MM salary in 2022/23 remains non-guaranteed, while he also has a team option worth $1.93MM for 2023/24.

Both Robinson and Mann are also extension-eligible with their respected clubs, Marks notes.

Knicks Exercise Team Option On Mitchell Robinson, Waive Norvel Pelle

The Knicks have picked up their option for next season on center Mitchell Robinson and have waived center Norvel Pelle, the team announced (via Twitter).

Robinson will make $1.8MM in the final season of the four-year deal he signed after being drafted in the second round in 2018. He was the team’s starting center before getting injured, so it was an easy decision for New York to exercise the option.

The 23-year-old averaged 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds in 31 games before undergoing season-ending foot surgery in late March. He also suffered a broken hand during the season that caused him to miss 15 games.

Robinson is eligible for a four-year, $51MM extension during the offseason, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Knicks also have the option of using cap space to renegotiate his salary for next season and having that be the beginning of an extension. If no extension is reached, Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Pelle, 28, had a $1.7MM option for 2021/22 that New York chose not to exercise. He signed a pair of 10-day deals with the Knicks in April, shortly after Robinson broke his foot, and earned a contract through the end of the season. Pelle appeared in nine games, averaging 1.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 5.8 minutes per night.

Knicks Notes: Point Guards, Thibodeau, Butler, Robinson

Finding a point guard will be an offseason priority for the Knicks, who have plenty of cap room and draft capital for their search, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New York’s point guard situation was in shambles by the end of the playoffs, with Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina both out of the rotation and Derrick Rose slowed by a sore knee.

With close to $60MM available to spend, the Knicks can be aggressive on the free agent market. The Raptors‘ Kyle Lowry will be an option, and sources tell Berman that he has wanted to come to New York in the past. However, a long-term contract for the 35-year-old would be considered a gamble.

Lonzo Ball reportedly has interest in joining the Knicks, but he’s a restricted free agent, giving the Pelicans the right to match any offer. Another intriguing name is Spencer Dinwiddie, who might like the idea of moving across town if the Nets don’t make a sizeable offer. Dennis Schröder and Cameron Payne are also available.

If New York opts for a trade, the team has a pair of first-round picks (19 and 21) and two second-rounders (32 and 58) to offer in this year’s draft. Berman addresses the chances of acquiring Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons, Kemba Walker and Jalen Brunson.

There’s more from New York City:

  • Coach Tom Thibodeau offered some insight into the Knicks’ draft plans during an appearance Friday on ESPN’s coverage of the combine, Berman adds. Thibodeau said the team wants to “add shooting — not just 3s, but off the dribble as well, wings and guys who can shoot.” He also talked about both trading up and trading out of the draft.
  • If the Knicks decide to find their next point guard through the draft, Baylor’s Jared Butler could be an option, according to Ryan Dunleavy of The New York Post. Butler, who is ranked 19th on ESPN’s list of the top 100 prospects, met with Knicks officials Thursday at the combine. “They just really tried to get to know me and pick my brain about certain situations in the game,” Butler said. “Asked about specific things about my time at Baylor, what I learned from that, and how I can translate to their team.”
  • Mitchell Robinson has been bulking up while recovering from surgery on his right foot. The Knicks tweeted a photo of him Friday at a lean 275 pounds after being listed at 240 pounds during the season.

Knicks Notes: Randle, T. Young, Noel, Robinson

Julius Randle isn’t just the NBA’s Most Improved Player, he’s also “a Thibs guy.” That’s how Knicks teammate Taj Gibson described Randle to Nick Friedell of ESPN in explaining how he was able to raise his game under coach Tom Thibodeau.

Randle averaged career highs this season with 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists and is a strong candidate for All-NBA honors. He also appeared in all but one of the team’s 72 games.

“When you’re a Thibs Guy that just shows that he can count on you,” Gibson explained. “Ups and downs, highs and lows, you know that he believes in you and he believes that you can go in there and help the team overcome — through injuries, through it all. It’s being a tough-minded guy, fight for the team.”

Thibodeau traces Randle’s improvement back to a meeting they had shortly after the new coach was hired last July. Thibodeau said Randle showed up in exceptional shape and expressed a willingness to be coached.

“You could see how highly motivated he was,” Thibodeau said. “And then when we had our short bubble, just his willingness to come in and work and lead and I could see how hungry he was. I felt like this was the guy that could help set the tone for us.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Knicks players aren’t buying into the idea of Trae Young as the newest villain at Madison Square Garden, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Hawks guard hit a game-winning floater in the final second of Game 1, then put his finger to his lips as a sign for the crowd to be quiet. “That’s basketball, man,” Derrick Rose said. “He came in, we played a great game and the crowd is supposed to do that, his reaction is supposed to be that way. It’s supposed to amp up and bring that atmosphere and that environment to where it is right now. I mean, that’s what I’m used to.”
  • Nerlens Noel will be in the starting lineup for tonight’s Game 2, the Knicks announced (via Twitter). Noel landed awkwardly and limped off the court midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. Thibodeau said Noel “tweaked his ankle” and was a limited participant in practice, Berman adds in a separate story.
  • Center Mitchell Robinson remains “several steps away” from returning after surgery on his right foot, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Addressing reporters before tonight’s game, Thibodeau said Robinson hasn’t been cleared for practice, adding, “We’re not taking any chances with him.”

Knicks Notes: Noel, Robinson, Point Guards, Draft

Among the many surprising aspects of the Knicks‘ season is that their defense has been able to survive the loss of center Mitchell Robinson, who is recovering from surgery on a fracture in his right foot. Mitchell’s shot blocking has been replaced by Nerlens Noel, who swatted five shots in Saturday’s win over the Hornets and now ranks second in the league with 2.1 per game, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

“His gift is obviously the rim protection,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “… He alters a lot of shots because everyone is looking for him. He has great value, he’s the anchor of the defense.”

Noel was a lottery pick in 2013, but wasn’t able to find a stable situation as he bounced from the Sixers to the Mavericks to the Thunder. He signed with New York during the offseason and has been a valuable addition in the wake of Robinson’s injuries, starting 40 of the 63 games he has played.

“I just feel like I’ve got something in me that comes alive, especially moments like (crunch time),” Noel said. “I live for moments, the big moments, and anything for my team.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Thibodeau offered a medical update on Robinson, who has started on-court activities but remains a long way from playing, Bondy adds. “He’s still in the rehab phase,” Thibodeau said. “… As I’ve said before, we’re not going to rush him along. We’re going to be cautious and make sure he goes through every phase of it properly. We just don’t want to take any chances with him.”
  • The Knicks can wrap up the fourth seed by beating the Celtics this afternoon, but their point guard situation remains muddled, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Elfrid Payton played less than 13 minutes on Saturday and Berman suspects Thibodeau is losing confidence in him. Alec Burks ran the point with the second unit, and Frank Ntilikina was inserted late in the game for his defense.
  • The dramatic turnaround in New York has made the draft an afterthought this year, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Before the season began, the Knicks started scouting with the expectation that they might have a high lottery pick, along with the Mavericks’ first-rounder from the Kristaps Porzingis trade. New York’s selection is currently at No. 18, while Dallas’ is at No. 23.

Knicks Notes: Burks, Robinson, Quickley, Thibodeau

The Knicks will be cautious with Alec Burks, who missed the past seven games while in the league’s health and safety protocols, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Burks wasn’t listed on the team’s injury report that was issued Saturday night, but coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t committed to playing him tonight at Houston. Burks was able to practice Saturday, but is being considered day-to-day.

“He’s got to get his conditioning up to speed,” Thibodeau said. “When he’s comfortable, we’ll get him in there.”

Burks has been an important part of the Knicks’ progress this year, averaging 12.6 points per game, mostly off the bench, and shooting 40.8% from three-point range. However, the team was able to win six of its seven games while he was sidelined.

“I think it’s one of the strengths of our club in that we do have a deep team,” Thibodeau said.

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • It’s been more than a month since Mitchell Robinson had surgery on his broken foot, but he’s still not involved in any basketball activities, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Robinson has missed the last 17 games and isn’t expected back during the regular season, although it’s not clear if the playoffs are a possibility. “I don’t want to put any timetable on it,” Thibodeau said. “To be honest, I don’t know. That would be up to the doctors, the trainers, all the medical people. We don’t want to take any chances with it. So we’re going to be very patient and make sure he’s completely healed before we get him going again.”
  • Immanuel Quickley has started shooting from several feet beyond the three-point line, which doesn’t bother his coach, Bondy adds in the same piece. “I don’t want to put a lid on it,” Thibodeau said. “… We want him to read the defense. When he has an opening, sometimes in transition those are the best looks that he’ll get. Particularly when teams are blitzing him. So we have a lot of confidence in his shooting. That’s his gift.”
  • In a separate story, Braziller looks at what the Knicks will have to do for the rest of the regular season to avoid a play-in game. New York is currently fourth in the East with a game and a half lead over the seventh-place Heat.

Knicks Notes: Henson, Robinson, Noel, Thibodeau

John Henson‘s 10-day contract with the Knicks expired overnight and the team doesn’t plan to sign him for another 10-day stint, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who notes (via Twitter) that the big man injured his calf on the second day of his deal and didn’t get a chance to play at all.

With Henson no longer under contract, the Knicks have an open spot on their 15-man roster and could create a second one if they don’t re-sign Norvel Pelle after his second 10-day deal expires next Wednesday night. Pelle made a case on Wednesday for a rest-of-season contract, as he was a plus-19 in just 13 minutes in New York’s victory over New Orleans.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks haven’t played any worse with Mitchell Robinson sidelined this season than they have with him in the lineup, prompting Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News to wonder how heavily the team should be willing to invest in Robinson on his next contract.
  • Nerlens Noel has played a major part in making up for Robinson’s absence. Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report takes a closer look at Noel’s resurgence and how it could impact the former lottery pick’s upcoming free agency.
  • Like Mark Cuban‘s Mavericks, Tom Thibodeau‘s Knicks may have to earn their playoff spot in a play-in tournament despite a possible top-eight finish. However, Thibodeau is more enthusiastic than Cuban about the merits of the play-in tournament, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “I think we have to let it play out first and then assess it again,” Thibodeau said. “But I think a lot of a lot of teams being involved in important games, I think that that’s good for the league. I think you’re always concerned about that. And so let’s see we’ll how it plays out but the initial thought of it I think is very good.”
  • Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy pointed to the “extra training camp” that Thibodeau and the Knicks got last fall as one reason for the team’s surprise emergence this season, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The teams that weren’t invited to the Walt Disney World bubble last summer were granted up to two weeks of organized team activities in September and October — that was Thibodeau’s first real chance to get familiar with his players, though it’s worth noting the roster was overhauled to some extent after that.

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.”

Mitchell Robinson Undergoes Foot Surgery

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson underwent surgery on Monday to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot, the team’s PR department tweets. There’s no timetable for a return this season.

The snakebit young big man was injured on Saturday during the first quarter in Milwaukee when he jumped and then landed awkwardly. Robinson was appearing in his fourth game after missing 15 with a broken right hand. He had a metal plate inserted into the hand to help stabilize it.

The 22-year-old has been limited to 30 games during his third NBA season, averaging 8.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG and 1.5 BPG.

The Knicks have cap room to use on the buyout market, but several big men have already committed to other teams.

Meanwhile, the Knicks hold a $1.8MM team option on Robinson for 2021/22. Picking up that option would put Robinson on track for unrestricted free agency in 2022, while turning it down would make him a restricted free agent this summer.

That’s not a straightforward decision — while exercising the option would lock up Robinson at a bargain price for another year, it would take away the Knicks’ ability to match any offer once he eventually reaches free agency.