Mitchell Robinson

Eastern Notes: Rivers, Knicks, Nets, Murphy

Now that the Sixers have been eliminated by the Celtics, is Doc Rivers a goner? Marc Stein wrote in his latest Substack article prior to Game 7 on Sunday that there have been recent murmurs Rivers’ status could become precarious if the team failed to close out the series. It wouldn’t be surprising, considering that proven coaches like Mike Budenholzer and Monty Williams have recently been dismissed due to postseason disappointments.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • With a wealth of extra draft picks and some solid young players, the Knicks could be in line for the next star who demands a trade, Eric Pincus writes for Bleacher Report. The salaries of Derrick Rose and Evan Fournier could help facilitate a deal, along with potential younger trade pieces such as Mitchell Robinson, Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes and Obi Toppin.
  • After getting burned by trying to build around superstars, the Nets will be looking to build around players who want to stay with the franchise, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. GM Sean Marks will have a busy offseason but the thing he’ll be looking for the most is high-character guys who want to be part of the group. “It’s got to come authentically. It’s got to be real,” Marks said. “I mean, I think we’ve seen it before, not just here but around the league. You bring somebody in and it’s not authentic to who they are. We want to make sure people that want to come here want to be part of something special and being part of Brooklyn and part of this unique situation.”
  • Former Pistons executive Rob Murphy and his legal representatives are firing back at the woman who accused him of harassment, Tresa Baldas of the Detroit Free Press reports. His lawyer alleged the Pistons cleared his client months ago of sexual harassment following an internal investigation. The same counsel added that Murphy looks forward to defending his name through the judicial process.

Atlantic Notes: Mazzulla, Ujiri, M. Robinson, House

Following a Game 5 loss at home on Tuesday, the Celtics are now one game away from elimination, heading to Philadelphia down 3-2 in the second round series. With Joe Mazzulla taking much of the blame for the Celtics‘ up-and-down play in the series, Marcus Smart jumped to the defense of the first-year head coach, telling Steve Bulpett of that “it’s not just one person’s fault.”

“We still believe in our coach. We believe in Joe to the fullest,” Smart said. “We haven’t lost faith in him and we won’t. He has a game plan; it’s on us to go out and execute it. We’re the ones out there playing, so we’ve got to help him. He’s been doing great.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • A rival general manager believes Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is “really, really frustrated,” pointing to Toronto’s disappointing season and Fred VanVleet‘s looming free agency as sources of Ujiri’s supposed discontent, according to Bulpett. “(VanVleet) hasn’t shown him any indication that he wants to stay. So I think he’s really down about that situation,” the GM told “Maybe it’s because everything’s still so fresh, but there’s a lot they have to get done there. It didn’t surprise anyone that (head coach) Nick (Nurse) moved on.” The GM added that the Wizards, who are in the market for a new head of basketball operations, may pursue Ujiri again this spring.
  • Responding to a tweet claiming that he has been getting “abused” by center Bam Adebayo in the second round series against the Heat, Knicks center Mitchell Robinson pushed back, suggesting that he has to provide help “every time” on defense. Zach Braziller of The New York Post has the story.
  • Viewed as one of the Sixers‘ key additions last offseason, Danuel House has been out of the rotation in the playoffs. However, as Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, the veteran wing logged 15 minutes in the team’s Game 5 win and played well, scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds. “My job is to bring energy, showcase a little something for the team, to guard the yard and make sure I’m executing plays,” House said after Philadelphia’s victory. “… It was a joy to be out there, to be honest.”

Knicks Notes: Randle, Robinson, Grimes, Thibodeau

After the Knicks were outrebounded and outhustled by the Heat in Game 4 of their second round series, Julius Randle raised concerns about his team’s drive and effort level, writes Nick Friedell of

“Maybe they want it more,” Randle said. “I don’t know. That’s been who we are all year and we got to find a way to step up and make those plays, keep the season alive.”

Randle added that the Knicks, who face a 3-1 deficit, need to “look within” before Game 5 as the series shifts back to New York and ask themselves “how bad do you want it?”

According to Friedell, Randle’s comments signal the extent to which the Knicks’ confidence has been shaken in the last week, as the team doesn’t seem to have an answer for Jimmy Butler and a veteran Heat squad.

Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post suggests that if Randle is right – or New York believes he’s right – the series is all but over. However, Vaccaro notes that some of Randle’s teammates expressed more optimism about the Knicks’ ability to reestablish the sort of physical, high-effort playing style that made their season a success.

“We’ve got to get back to being the tough, physical team that we’ve been, take care of the defense boards and take care of the ball better,” RJ Barrett said. “If we can clean that up we have a good chance.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Mitchell Robinson‘s struggles vs. Bam Adebayo and the Heat continued on Monday, says Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Miami racked up 13 offensive rebounds (seven in the fourth quarter) while Adebayo had 23 points and 13 rebounds. Robinson knows the team needs more from him to have a shot at a comeback. “S–t, got to box out. We got to limit them to one shot,” he said. “I didn’t do a good job of it today. And I got to be better.” For what it’s worth, Robinson was the only Knicks with a positive plus-minus in Game 4 (+1).
  • A starter for much of the season, Quentin Grimes came off the bench in the first three games of the second round and didn’t play more than 26 minutes in any of those contests. He returned to the starting five and logged nearly 42 minutes on Monday, but couldn’t provide the team with a major spark, Braziller writes for The New York Post.
  • Grimes told reporters on Monday that the Twitter user who identified himself as Grimes’ manager and griped about the second-year wing’s role after Game 3 is a close friend, but not his manager. “He doesn’t speak for me. He wants to win as much as I do,” Grimes said, per Braziller. “He just tweeted something that he probably regrets. But he doesn’t speak for me at all, for sure.”
  • Erik Spoelstra has been outcoaching Tom Thibodeau so far in this series, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who notes that Thibodeau has never defeated Spoelstra in the postseason, losing two playoff series to the Heat when he coached the Bulls. “He’s been putting on a clinic,” a veteran Eastern Conference scout said of Spoelstra, per Lewis.

And-Ones: Hustle Award, Free Agent Guards, Brooks, Hawkins

Celtics guard Marcus Smart has won the NBA’s Hustle Award for 2022/23, the league announced in a press release (story via Brian Martin of The 29-year-old also won the award last season, becoming the first back-to-back winner, and has now been the recipient three times in the past five seasons.

This is the seventh season for the Hustle Award, which was created in ’16/17, Martin notes. It is a merit-based award reflective of’s hustle stats, including charges drawn, loose balls recovered, deflections, box outs, screen assists and contested shots.

The top-five finishers for the award, in order, were Smart, Warriors forward/center Draymond Green, Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith, Knicks center Mitchell Robinson and Pelicans forward Herbert Jones.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report takes a look at the best guards available on the 2023 free agent market and their potential landing spots. Pincus thinks a team with cap room might try to pry restricted free agent Austin Reaves from the Lakers with a large offer sheet, but he thinks L.A. will ultimately match.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic, who used to work for the Grizzlies and was part of the front office that drafted Dillon Brooks, believes the small forward can still be a positive contributor for a number of teams as long as he can toe “The Line” between “competitive and crazy.” Teams over the cap but below the luxury tax line could offer the impending free agent the full mid-level exception, and Hollinger points to the Bulls, Hornets, Mavericks, Kings, Trail Blazers and Hawks as clubs that could use defensive help on the wing. As for teams with cap room, the Pistons, Rockets, Pacers and Jazz might be interested in Brooks if they miss out on pricier targets, according to Hollinger.
  • UConn guard Jordan Hawkins has been invited to the NBA draft combine, which takes place later this month, according Adam Zagoria of (Twitter link). Considered one of the best shooters in the 2023 class, Hawkins is a potential lottery pick, currently ranked No. 13 on ESPN’s big board. As Zagoria previously reported, Hawkins will be joining a couple of his teammates (Andre Jackson and Adama Sanogo) at the combine.

Knicks Notes: Toppin, Randle, Grimes, Robinson, Brunson

Julius Randle‘s uncertain status for Sunday’s series opener against Miami may result in the first career playoff start for Obi Toppin, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Randle is listed as questionable after reinjuring his left ankle Wednesday, and he wasn’t able to participate in Saturday’s practice, according to Botte.

Randle suffered the injury late in the second quarter of the Knicks’ close-out win against the Cavaliers, and Toppin took his place in the starting lineup for the beginning of the second half. Toppin has only started 15 games in his three NBA seasons, but he feels ready for the assignment after seeing increased playing time following Randle’s first ankle injury.

“We are preparing exactly the same,” Toppin said. “Everybody, we are all going to do the same exact thing whether Julius plays or he doesn’t play. We don’t know exactly what his status is right now. But whatever the coaches need all of us to do … I feel like we understand and know what to do once we get out on the floor.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Quentin Grimes is also listed as questionable with a right shoulder contusion, but coach Tom Thibodeau said Grimes should be able to play Sunday as long as there are no late setbacks, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.
  • Mitchell Robinson dominated the paint in the first-round series against Cleveland, but that will be harder to do against Miami, states Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Robinson will be matched up with Bam Adebayo, who often steps out of the lane to initiate the team’s offense. Braziller notes that Robinson averaged just 4.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in three regular season games against the Heat.
  • Along with his outstanding play, Jalen Brunson‘s demeanor has played a role in the Knicks’ turnaround, per Steve Popper of Newsday. As the son of an NBA player, Brunson has been familiar with the league from a young age and he’s been able to share a sense of calmness with his teammates. “He is very composed,” Josh Hart said. “He is never rushed, never rattled. Very poised. He’s able to get his own shot and also get other guys involved. He’s able to just control the game and that’s what you want out of the point guard. You guys see in late-game situations Jalen will take over the game, knock down big free throws. He does all those kind of things. So that’s what you want in a point guard. That’s what you want in a leader. That’s what you want from one of the stars on the team and he does it on a nightly basis.”

Knicks Notes: Towns, Randle, Grimes, Hart

The Knicks are expected to be aggressive in trying to add talent this summer and could be a leading contender if the Timberwolves decide to trade Karl-Anthony Towns, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy. A league source told Deveney that Towns would have interest in going to New York and speculated that it’s just a matter of time before the Knicks try to make it happen.

Deveney points out that Towns already has ties to the organization in team president Leon Rose, who is his former agent, and head coach Tom Thibodeau, who coached Towns for two and a half seasons in Minnesota. The Wolves’ early playoff exit, combined with New York’s surge into the Eastern Conference semifinals, creates even more motivation for the move to happen, Deveney adds.

Towns has one more season before his four-year, $224MM super-max extension kicks in, which will place a tremendous strain on the Wolves’ finances. Trading him might be the best option for avoiding the strictest provisions of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“No matter the success this year, the Knicks are going to keep being aggressive,” an Eastern Conference executive told Deveney. “So you’d want to start with RJ Barrett there. But you can send (Obi) Toppin, you can send (Quentin) Grimes, (Miles) McBride. They do not want to trade (Immanuel) Quickley but if the target is Towns, maybe they would change that. You’d play Towns at the 5 if you were New York so they’d probably have Mitchell Robinson in the deal, and he could go to a third team. A lot of possibilities and Minnesota might be a better team by putting it all on (Anthony) Edwards and getting the right pieces from that mix.”

There’s more from New York:

  • No timetable has been set for a return by Julius Randle, who reinjured his left ankle in Wednesday’s game, tweets Ian Begley of Thibodeau said Randle was limited in Friday’s practice to shooting, lifting weights and doing cardio work in the pool. He’s considered day-to-day ahead of the start of New York’s second-round series with Miami on Sunday afternoon.
  • Grimes, who missed the past two games with a right shoulder contusion, is optimistic that he’ll be ready for the series opener (video link from
  • The Knicks and Heat have been through some legendary playoff battles, but Josh Hart said that won’t have any effect this year’s series (video link). “It was 23, 27 years ago,” Hart told reporters. “Most of our guys weren’t even born yet. For us, those are the war stories of the past. We’ve got our own path.”

Knicks Notes: Brunson, Randle, Toppin, Robinson

Jalen Brunson was the best player on the court during his first playoff series with the Knicks, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Brunson was New York’s top offseason addition, joining the team on a four-year, $104MM contract in free agency. The Knicks were docked a second-round pick in 2025 for early negotiations with Brunson, but it seemed like a small price to pay on Wednesday as he led the franchise to its first series victory since 2013.

“It’s a really cool experience knowing that my dad (Knicks assistant Rick Brunson) played here — he was on that team that got to the Finals (in 1999),” Brunson said. “It’s special. The connection that me and my dad have, everything, all the full circle, it’s really special.”

Brunson had 23 points, four rebounds and four assists in the close-out victory at Cleveland and made big plays to hold off several Cavaliers rallies. He quickly emerged as a team leader after coming to New York and has provided stability at point guard that the team lacked for years.

“He’s a star player,” Josh Hart said. “He showed that last year in the playoffs. He showed that this whole season, and he’s continuing to show it, continuing to prove people wrong, and none of us in that locker room or in that front office or coaching staff is surprised by how he’s playing.”

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • The only downside to Wednesday’s victory was Julius Randle reinjuring his left ankle, Friedell adds. Randle didn’t return to the game after limping off in the second quarter, and coach Tom Thibodeau said he will be reevaluated today. Randle, who had struggled with his shot during the series, was back in All-Star form before the injury with 13 points, six assists and four rebounds in 16 minutes
  • The Knicks got a lift from Obi Toppin, who replaced Randle after he left the game, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. Toppin scored all 12 of his points in the third quarter and thrilled his teammates with a breakaway windmill dunk. “I feel like my approach is the same every time I enter the game. I feel like I know what I got to do,” Toppin said. “Be aggressive, bring a lot of energy and have fun and definitely play defense. I feel like we all did that today.”
  • Mitchell Robinson‘s work on the boards helped the Knicks survive despite shooting just 21.1% in the fourth quarter on Wednesday, states Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Robinson finished the game with 11 offensive rebounds and 18 overall as he continued his domination of Cleveland’s big men. “I’ve said this all along, I think he’s the best offensive rebounder in the league,” Thibodeau said. “Oftentimes, he’s got two bodies on him and they’re making a conscious effort to keep him off the glass. And now his defensive rebounding is coming along also. That rebounding piece is huge. The shot blocking, the rim protection, the pick-and-roll defense, and his offense is starting to come as well.”

Knicks Notes: Randle, Thibodeau, Offense, Robinson

All-Star Knicks power forward Julius Randle provided a terse response when asked about being sat for the entire fourth quarter of the team’s Game 4 victory over the Cavaliers, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post.

“We won the game,” he offered after the game. “You know, I’m a competitor. Obviously I would like to play, but like I said it’s [head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s] decision.”

Thibodeau felt that Randle is still dealing with the effects of a sprained left ankle. The 6’8″ big man scored just seven points while shooting 3-of-10 from the field.

“He had to do a lot to get back to play,” Thibodeau remarked. “So you’re talking about a quick turnaround from a late Friday night game to early Sunday… But he’s got a couple of days to recharge. He’s bouncing around today pretty good, which is what we thought. I felt he would be impacted in that game.”

New York currently leads the Cavaliers 3-1 in their first round series. A potential closeout game is scheduled for tonight.

There’s more out of New York:

  • Thibodeau has restored his reputation as an elite NBA coach thanks to his performance during the 2022/23 regular season and now the playoffs, opines Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. The Knicks’ third-year had coach made some major lineup adjustments in early December, emphasizing high-upside youth over some of his previously preferred veterans.
  • By employing Knicks swingmen RJ Barrett and Josh Hart as the primary screeners in pick-and-roll actions with star point guard Jalen Brunson, the Knicks have been able to keep the Cavaliers’ intimidating starting fronctourt away from the ball and stuck near the baseline, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post.
  • A rival NBA coach spoke with Fred Katz of The Athletic about how Knicks center Mitchell Robinson has enjoyed so much success in the series so far. “I think the matchup helps him because he’s never gonna guard any stretch bigs against the Cavs,” the coach said. “He’s gonna be on [Jarrett] Allen. He’s gonna be on [Evan] Mobley. He can be in the paint and do what he does best. I think it’ll be interesting to see when, if they advance, if they play a big who’s more of a stretch big, how they handle it. But I think the matchup helps.”

Knicks Notes: Barrett, Roster Moves, Brunson, Centers, Thibodeau

Knicks forward RJ Barrett has gone from bust to boom in the past two games, Peter Botte of the New York Post points out. Barrett shot 6-for-25 from the field in the first two games of the first-round series against the Cavaliers. He has gone 17-for-30 in the last two games, averaging 23.5 points per contest.

“I just wanted to continue to make the right plays, make the right reads. Just do whatever to help the team,” said Barrett, who will begin his four-year, $107MM extension in 2023/24.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • The moves the Knicks made during the offseason and at the trade deadline have put them in a position to reach the second round, Ian Begley of SNY TV writes. They signed Jalen Brunson instead of trading for Donovan Mitchell, signed Barrett to his extension and re-signed big man Mitchell Robinson. They also added Isaiah Hartenstein via free agency and acquired Josh Hart from Portland in February.
  • Brunson is running pick-and-rolls with wings and other guards such as Barrett to great effect during the postseason, Fred Katz of The Athletic notes. Their defense is also much more intense, particularly in transition. “We’re playing extremely hard,” Barrett said. “We’re making hustle plays. … The whole team, all the hustle plays we’re making, we’re really together collectively.”
  • The center rotation of Robinson and Hartenstein became increasingly effective as the regular season wore on, coach Tom Thibodeau told Botte and other media members. “That tandem, from the second half of the season on, Mitch is the anchor of the defense. Isaiah gives us the rim protection and he’s different offensively,” Thibodeau said. “So there’s different components to it.” They combined for 13 points, 19 rebounds and four blocked shots in Game 4 on Sunday.
  • Thibodeau’s willingness to bench gimpy Julius Randle for a good portion of the second half is an example of how much the veteran coach has changed his approach, Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post opines. Thibodeau has become much more willing to rely on younger players and his second unit, rather than leaning too heavily on veterans.

Knicks Notes: Hart, Randle, Bench Points, Grimes

Josh Hart is listed as doubtful to play in Game 2 of the Knicks’ series against the Cavaliers on Tuesday, the team’s PR department tweets. Hart sprained his left ankle during the Knicks’ Game 1 victory on Saturday.

Hart was able to participate in Monday’s practice on a limited basis, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. However, he mainly got treatment on his ankle during practice, according to Ian Begley of SNY TV (Twitter link).

“Just get treatment again tomorrow, see where he is,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.

The injury occurred when Hart landed on Julius Randle‘s foot in the fourth quarter.

We have more from the Knicks:

  • Re-signing Hart should be a high priority this offseason, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post opines. Hart is expected to decline his $12.96MM option this summer in order to become an unrestricted free agent. Vaccaro believes that something a bit north of the four-year, $60MM contract the Knicks gave Mitchell Robinson last summer should get the job done.
  • Randle gave the Knicks a huge lift after returning from a left ankle sprain suffered in late March, Begley notes. He had 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals while playing 34 minutes. “Julius played in 77 games until he sprained his ankle. He practiced every day. What you see in the games, what you see in practice — (you know you’re) gonna get whatever he has,” Thibodeau said.
  • Immanuel Quickley had a rough outing on Saturday, yet the Knicks’ reserves still outscored Cleveland’s second unit 37-14, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes. “It’s been huge for us all season,” starter RJ Barrett said of the reserves. Naturally, the bench will be weakened if Hart (17 points, 10 rebounds) can’t go.
  • Quentin Grimes is prepared to take on a bigger role if Hart is sidelined, he told Steve Popper of Newsday“I don’t think it’s really any more pressure,” Grimes said. “I feel like I’ve been guarding the best player from the other team the whole season. So I feel like it’s just another night, just the stakes are a little bit higher. I’m just going to come in a little sharper probably just knowing that if he doesn’t play, I just have to be more alert at all times whenever (Donovan Mitchell) is on the court.”