Taj Gibson

Mitchell Robinson In Concussion Protocol, Out Indefinitely

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson has entered the concussion protocol after being hit in the face against the Rockets Saturday night, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. He is out indefinitely.

Robinson, 23, was hit in the nose by an elbow from Jae’Sean Tate in the third quarter of the contest and did not return to the game, Berman relays.

Last season Robinson suffered a broken hand that sidelined him for 15 games. Four games after he returned, he had an awkward landing and broke his foot, which required surgery.

Robinson has still been dealing with lingering effects from the foot surgery this season, as he’s struggled with conditioning and multiple ankle sprains, Berman says. The big man also had a hip flexor injury less than two weeks ago.

Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. It’s tricky to gauge his market value due to his injury history and offensive limitations. Through 15 games, he’s averaging 7.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 25.7 minutes per contest.

According to Berman, backup center Taj Gibson is also sidelined with a strained groin, while Nerlens Noel, who’s been dealing with knee issues, still isn’t 100%. Rookie Jericho Sims figures to see some playing time with the frontcourt so undermanned, while second-year forward Obi Toppin could see an increase in minutes.

Atlantic Notes: Kanter, Schröder, C. Thomas, Gibson

Entering Monday’s game, Celtics center Enes Kanter has appeared in just two games this season, logging less than total 10 minutes in his latest stint in Boston. Kanter, who has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, published a social media post on Sunday implying that there may be a connection between his limited role on the court and his political stances off of it.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka dismissed the idea that Kanter has been out of the rotation due to his comments in the press and on social media.

“My thing is strictly basketball,” Udoka said, per Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link). “We’re switching a lot and doing some things that probably are not as natural for him and that’s limited his time to some extent … Nothing basketball-related will be based on [social media].”

Kanter ended up seeing a little action on Monday in Cleveland, scoring five points in eight minutes as Boston defeated the Cavs by a score of 98-92.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Dennis Schröder is off to a strong start with the Celtics this season, averaging 17.1 PPG and 5.2 APG through 14 games (33.0 MPG). However, as Forsberg writes for NBC Sports Boston, the better Schröder plays, the less likely it is he remains in Boston beyond 2021/22, given the team’s cap constraints going forward.
  • Nets rookie guard Cameron Thomas has new representation, according to Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype, who tweets that Thomas has signed with Jim Tanner and Terrence Felder of Tandem Sports + Entertainment/You Sports. Thomas is in the first year of his rookie scale contract, so it will likely be a while before his new agents have to negotiate a new deal.
  • Mitchell Robinson tweaked his ankle on Monday and Nerlens Noel has battled injuries all season, so Taj Gibson has played a greater role than the Knicks may have anticipated when they re-signed him this offseason. The veteran big man has responded admirably when called upon, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. In 29 minutes on Monday, Gibson had more fouls (three) than points (two), but grabbed eight rebounds and was a plus-22 in a game New York won by eight points.

Knicks Notes: Fournier, Robinson, Gibson, Chemistry

The signing of Evan Fournier has added another dimension to the Knicks‘ offense, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Fournier made a statement with 32 points in his first game with his new team, and although he hasn’t duplicated that, he has put up consistent numbers, averaging 14.9 PPG and shooting 37.5% from three-point range.

Fournier was barely mentioned as a target for New York when free agency began, Braziller notes, as the team was rumored to have more interest in Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan. They both wound up in Chicago, so the Knicks lured Fournier away from Boston on a four-year, $73MM deal.

“I just like his playmaking, I like the shooting,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “One of the things when you go back, we had to close the gap in the 3-point shooting. That was a big thing for us. Two years ago, we were so far behind in that. I think that he and Kemba (Walker) have added the right shot profile to what we’re trying to get accomplished. We still have room to grow in that area. Understanding how we get to those shots is important.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Mitchell Robinson is reminding people how valuable he can be when he’s on the court, notes Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. The Knicks’ disappointing first-round playoff exit last season came without Robinson, who was sidelined with a broken foot. The team believes it has an effective center combination with Robinson and Nerlens Noel, as long as both can stay healthy. “When they play together, I think we’re a handful to deal with,” Thibodeau said.
  • While Robinson and Noel have both battled injuries, Taj Gibson has been the team’s most reliable center, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Gibson said cutting sugar from his diet has helped him remain productive at age 36. “No candy. No candy,” he said. “Me and Derrick (Rose) were talking about all the good candy we used to eat back in the day. I can’t eat that stuff anymore because so much inflammation it leads to after a game. Playing real physical, playing against talented big men the way we’ve been playing, I just been taking care of my body.”
  • The Knicks are still working to develop team chemistry after bringing in a new starting backcourt, observes Peter Botte of The New York Post. “It’s only going to get better,” Walker said. “We’re still trying to figure each other out. But yeah, as long as we keep communicating, which we are, me and (Julius Randle), us as a team, we’ll continue to grow. That’s what it’s about.”

Knicks Notes: Center Rotation, Kemba, Toppin, Standings

Now that Knicks center Nerlens Noel has joined starter Mitchell Robinson on the sidelines due to a knee injury, New York is struggling with some serious depth problems at the five spot, per Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Robinson is dealing with a hip flexor injury and fatigue. In addition to knee and hamstring soreness, Noel is also battling a sore back. Deep-bench reserves Taj Gibson and rookie Jericho Sims have been pressed into service much more than had been expected prior to the 2021/22 season. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has also experimented with small-ball lineups featuring nominal power forward Obi Toppin at center.

There’s more out of the Big Apple:

  • Starting Knicks point guard Kemba Walker is taking a cautious approach to his health this season, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. This extends to establishing his own rest day schedule and paying attention to his body. The 31-year-old, who has struggled with knee issues for years, sat out Sunday’s game, then helped the Knicks defeat Philadelphia 103-96 on Monday. “It’s a long year,” Walker said. “I’m not gonna play every game, so I just thought that was probably when I should sit out. And it worked out.”
  • Second-year Knicks power forward Obi Toppin appears to be outplaying his current minutes, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic in a new mailbag. Toppin has been limited to just 14.3 MPG this season, despite looking intriguing in small-ball frontcourt lineups next to starting power forward Julius Randle. Katz opines that Thibodeau does not appear ready to increase Toppin’s minutes load.
  • Elsewhere in Katz’s mailbag, he predicts that the Knicks as currently comprised should be good for a top-eight finish in the Eastern Conference, with the Celtics and Bulls among the threats to push them down into play-in territory (i.e. the 7-10 seeds).

Atlantic Notes: Knicks Centers, Thibodeau, Stevens, Durant

Though he sat for his seventh straight game to start the season Monday night in a 113-104 loss against the Raptors, reserve Knicks center Nerlens Noel appears poised for a return, and not a moment too soon, as third-string center Taj Gibson sprained his ankle during the game’s first half, writes Greg Joyce of the New York Post. Rookie big man Jericho Sims served as Gibson’s replacement during the second half.

The Knicks re-signed Noel to the tune of a three-year, $28MM contract this summer. Noel has been struggling with a knee/hamstring injury since the preseason. During the 2020/21 season, his first with the Knicks, the former lottery pick averaged 5.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 2.2 BPG, while starting in 41 of his 64 total games.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is reluctant to blame New York’s defensive issues this season on its increased pace, writes Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “It’s probably too early to really tell,” Tom Thibodeau said of a link between the pace and the defense. “You see it in the league all the time, teams that play with an edge usually have an advantage. Oftentimes, it’s teams that have guys that are out, that they play with great intensity. We should understand that better than anyone.” The Knicks are currently ranked 20th in the NBA with a defensive rating of 109.
  • During an interview with NBC Sports Boston (Twitter video link), Celtics team president Brad Stevens addressed starting point guard Marcus Smart‘s criticism of All-Star teammates Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown following a 128-114 come-from-ahead loss to the Bulls on Monday night. “When you see (Smart) and (Tatum) sitting down eating breakfast together today and talking about how to find our solution for our team… those guys want to win.”
  • Despite the 4-3 Nets grappling with a variety of on- and off-court problems, All-Star forward Kevin Durant looks as great as ever, per Zach Braziller of the New York Post. Durant is averaging 27.7 PPG while shooting 58.3% from the floor and averaging 8.9 RPG. “He’s our guy — he’s The Guy,” new reserve power forward Paul Millsap said. “We feed off of him and what he does. He carries our team a lot. We kind of need him to do that. We need him to be him.”

New York Notes: Gibson, Aldridge, Nets, Thibodeau

Knicks veteran Taj Gibson understands that his role will change when Nerlens Noel eventually returns from a knee injury, Peter Botte of the New York Post writes.

Gibson has played a key role in New York’s 5-1 start to the season, providing frontcourt depth in Noel’s absence. Noel started in 41 of 64 games last season and helped the Knicks reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

“Right now I’m just trying to do what’s best for the team,” Gibson said. “When Nerls comes back, I’m gonna support him. That’s my young boy and I’m extremely happy because I know the work he puts in on a daily basis, and our big-man group, we work together. I’m happy to see everybody get some reps because I’m old enough.

“Whatever Thibs need me to do, the coaching staff, I just enjoy playing the game and being on this team.”

There’s more out of New York today:

  • Speaking of Gibson, the 36-year-old is enjoying a rebirth with the Knicks as a first-time father, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. Gibson is in his 13th NBA season, carrying 848 games of experience.
  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post examines whether Nets big man LaMarcus Aldridge could become a reliable third scoring option for the team. Aldridge has averaged 12 points in 20 minutes per game, and with Kyrie Irving still out, Brooklyn will need continued production from the veteran.
  • Knicks players and head coach Tom Thibodeau value the privilege of dining together, Steve Popper writes in a separate article for Newsday. Team coaches, staff and players came together for a dinner after the team’s 104-103 victory over Chicago on Thursday, building chemistry off the court, Popper writes.

New York Notes: Harden, Durant, Irving, Gibson

Nets owner Joe Tsai is hopeful that James Harden will finish his career in Brooklyn, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Harden has yet to sign an extension but Tsai believes Harden is in it for the long-term. “The way I look at it is he’s already said I want to play and finish my career in Brooklyn: He’s actually said that. And our job is to make sure that he continues to feel that way,” Tsai said. “Obviously, if we win a championship and also have the chance to win multiple championships down the road, that’s going to be even more convincing, more compelling.“

We have more from the New York City teams:

  • Nets perennial All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who has already signed a four-year extension, says he’s still evolving as a player and is focused on being as good as ever, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. “I really feel like I have been growing every single day and I am starting to understand the game a little bit more,” Durant said. “I kind of simplified it for myself. I try not to chase anything outside of just being the best that I can be on the floor … Yeah, it’s made me at ease a little bit.”
  • While Tsai respects Kyrie Irving‘s feelings regarding his reluctance to be vaccinated, he wants to remind his star point guard about the team’s ultimate aim, Lewis writes. “What is our goal this year? What’s our purpose this year? It’s very, very clear: Win a championship. And the championship team needs to have everybody pulling the same direction,” Tsai said. “So, I hope to see Kyrie play fully and win a championship together with everybody else, with all his teammates. That’s the best outcome for everybody.”
  • Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is very happy Taj Gibson re-signed with the team on a two-year, $10.1MM deal, as Mark Sanchez of the New York Post notes. “Whether he’s [in or] not in the rotation, he’s practicing hard, helping his teammates, helping the team any way he can,” Thibodeau said. “If you have to play him off the bench, he can handle that. If you want to plug him in as a starter, he can handle that. He’s played two positions his entire career. He’s invaluable to us.”

Knicks Notes: Gibson, Redick, Randle, Rookies

Taj Gibson talked to several teams in free agency and some offered more money than the Knicks, but he preferred to stay in New York with coach Tom Thibodeau, writes Owen O’Brien of Newsday. Gibson re-signed for $10.1MM over two years with a team option on the second season.

“It was real frustrating, but it was a good frustrating,” Gibson said of the free agency experience. “But at the same time, I knew I made the right decision. Money doesn’t move me, I just wanted to be a Knick.”

Keeping Gibson was part of a busy offseason for New York, which added Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier in addition to re-signing several key parts of last season’s 41-31 team. Gibson said the Knicks look “really stacked” and he’s looking forward to resuming his role as one of their veteran leaders.

“They know I’m always willing and ready to play, but right now I’m just happy to be the vet on the team,” he said. “The guy that comes in and works out hard every day — but always capable — and I’m having a good time being with these young guys every day and just trying to build a culture.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Free agent guard J.J. Redick, who is rumored to have interest in joining the Knicks or Nets, doesn’t expect to be with a team when training camps open next month, relays Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post. Redick, who prefers to play close to his family in Brooklyn, talked about the situation on his “Old Man and the Three” podcast. “We’ll make a decision on next season — what team, what city, etc. — probably sometime in the next two or three months,” Redick said. “… But, you know, I would say, pretty much definitively, like, I won’t be in a training camp to start the season. That’s not gonna happen.”
  • Now that Julius Randle has a four-year extension in place, he wants to do everything he can to build a championship team, including serving as a recruiter in free agency, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks had more than $50MM in cap space this summer, but didn’t land any top-tier free agents, spending most of that money to keep their own players. “I told them if they need me to help, I’ll definitely get involved,” Randle said. “At the end of the day, winning is all that matters. My biggest goal is to win a championship here in New York. Whatever I can help to make that happen, to bring a championship to the city, they need me to help and get a player, I’m confident we’re doing that for sure.”
  • Randle paid close attention to the Summer League team and said Thibodeau loves the work ethic displayed by rookies Miles McBride, Quentin Grimes and Jericho Sims, Berman adds. “When I saw those guys, man, they’re competitive and they’re skilled,” Randle said. “Those guys sound like they’re going to get in and add to our core guys.”

Knicks Notes: Fournier, Gibson, Rose, Burks

The Knicks have formally announced many of their offseason free agent signings in recent days, with new deals for Evan Fournier, Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, and Taj Gibson all becoming official.

We’re still waiting on the team to finalize its four-year extension for Julius Randle, along with some minor signings like Dwayne Bacon. But the flurry of transactions this week means that we now have details on several of the Knicks’ new contracts. Let’s dive in and round them up…

  • As we relayed earlier today, Evan Fournier has $1.5MM per year in unlikely incentives on his new four-year deal. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Instagram video), the majority of those bonuses are related to team success — Fournier would earn an extra $1MM, for instance, if the Knicks were to win the title. There are also bonuses related to All-Star and All-NBA nods, which are a long shot to be earned.
  • Taj Gibson‘s new two-year deal features a team option for the 2022/23 season, according to Marks.
  • Marks says the cap hits on Derrick Rose‘s new three-year contract are $13.4MM, $14.5MM, and $15.6MM. Those are likely rounded figures, as the most the Knicks could’ve offered Rose using his Early Bird rights was approximately $13.445MM in year one, $14.521MM in year two, and $15.596MM in year three. The deal, which includes a third-year team option, comes in at about $43.56MM.
  • Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets the details of Alec Burks‘ three-year, $30MM+ contract, which are identical to what Burks would’ve received if he were signed using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. The Knicks used cap room to sign Burks, but as Marks observes, they may have structured the agreement that way early in free agency in case they found a way to stay over the cap all offseason and needed the MLE for Burks.

Knicks Re-Sign Taj Gibson To Two-Year Contract

AUGUST 18: The Knicks have officially re-signed Gibson, per NBA.com’s transactions log.

AUGUST 17: The Knicks and veteran big man Taj Gibson have reached an agreement to adjust the terms of the deal they initially agreed upon two weeks ago, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Gibson, who had been set to sign a one-year, minimum-salary deal, will actually receive a two-year deal worth $10.1MM, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Wojnarowski.

The Knicks have been slowly completing their offseason signings, starting with Nerlens Noel, Kemba Walker, and – most recently – Evan Fournier. New deals for Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, and Gibson have yet to be announced as New York determines the best way to maximize its cap space.

We’ll have to wait for more details on the adjustment to Gibson’s deal, but it sounds as if the Knicks determined they were in position to accommodate a slightly more lucrative salary for the 36-year-old. It’s a win-win for Gibson, who gets rewarded for his locker-room leadership over the last two seasons, and for the Knicks, who will now have a more tradable contract on the books without sacrificing any real cap flexibility.

The Knicks will use their room exception to complete the signing, as Bobby Marks of ESPN confirms (via Twitter). That exception allows for a two-year deal worth $10,065,500. New York had Early Bird rights on Gibson, but renounced him earlier in free agency in order to maximize cap room.

Gibson appeared in 45 games for the Knicks during the 2020/21 season, averaging 5.4 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 20.8 minutes per contest. He figures to provide depth up front behind centers Mitchell Robinson and Noel next season.