The New York Knicks are off to their best start in years, and Mitchell Robinson is at both the literal and figurative center of that success. The third-year big man is the anchor of New York’s No. 5 ranked defense, and his athleticism has turned him into one of the NBA’s best lob threats. Unfortunately, it appears as if Robinson is going to have to miss some time.
After Friday’s victory over the Washington Wizards, the Knicks announced that Robinson suffered a fractured right hand. He will be re-evaluated on Saturday. It is unclear how much time he can be expected to miss. Hand fractures encompass a wide-variety of injuries. Depending on where exactly the fracture occurred, his absence could be brief or extended.
The Knicks are fortunate to have a fair bit of depth on their front line. Julius Randle has thrived as the team’s power forward. No. 8 overall pick Obi Toppin had struggled to find minutes, so a silver lining of Robinson’s absence could be more playing time for him. Nerlens Noel was signed during the offseason and should now be expected to step in as the starting center. Taj Gibson, a longtime Tom Thibodeau favorite, will likely see more minutes as well.
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But Robinson is New York’s best defender, and the team has a difficult decision to make on his contract status this offseason. They have a team option on Robinson worth only $1.8 million. Should they pick up that option, Robinson would become an unrestricted free agent in 2022. If, however, they decline it, he would be restricted this offseason, and they could match any offer he received. Ideally, the Knicks would like to lock Robinson into a new contract as quickly as possible, and Robinson, a former lottery-level prospect who tumbled in the draft, would probably appreciate that security.
Health concerns often interfere with such negotiations, and a winning season would not doubt help Robinson secure his payday. For both his sake and his team’s, hopefully this injury turns out to be a minor one.