Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson making case for contract extension

Mitchell Robinson is starting to play his way into a contract extension.

The Knicks center nearly posted an offbeat triple-double Wednesday night in a 120-108 loss to the Grizzlies at the Garden. He finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. He was 7-for-8 from the field. And he did it against NBA strongman Steven Adams.

“I knew they were number one in the paint so I had to protect the paint and went after the ball,’’ Robinson said. “I took the challenge. It was challenging [against Adams], but I think I did pretty well.’’

Robinson, who missed much of last season with a broken foot, is finally rounding into superb form as a beast under the glass after struggling earlier in the season with his conditioning. Robinson had seven offensive rebounds — and scored after five of them.

“He’s just healthy,’’ RJ Barrett said. “Now you’re seeing a guy getting in a groove. He’s such a gift offensively and defensively. Eight blocks is incredible and all the offensive rebounds.… Sometimes I just shoot it because I know he’s going to get it.’’

Mitchell Robinson attempts to block a Ja Morant dunk during the Knicks’ 120-108 loss to the Grizzlies.
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent this summer if the Knicks don’t act. He’s a one-of-a-kind old-school center.

Coach Tom Thibodeau held his praise due to the loss, and noted that when Robinson went out for his blocks, the Knicks didn’t often get the rebound. It was unclear whether Thibodeau felt he gambled too much.

“Good activity and rim protection was vital,’’ Thibodeau said. “When he goes to block we have to make sure we find a body. He did some good things but we got to finish our defense better.’’

Is he back to 100 percent?

“Not all the way yet, but close to it,’’ Robinson said.

The loss began a gauntlet for the Knicks. It was hardly an easy prep for the five-game western swing, which starts Saturday against the Lakers.

The Knicks (24-28) now face Utah, Golden State, Denver and Portland. Three of those teams are in the top six in the Western Conference and Portland still is in 10th place — in play-in range.

The Knicks are four games under .500, in 12th place in the East. By the time they return home on Valentine’s Day, things might look a lot bleaker. Of course, the trade deadline, next Thursday, also will have passed.

That trip doesn’t end the rigorous grind. The Knicks will get a respite with that Feb. 14 home match versus Oklahoma City, but then face the Nets to close their schedule before the All-Star break. They will come out of that break to face the Heat followed by a home-and-home versus the 76ers.

Thibodeau has been asked multiple times about the upcoming tough grind, and he steadfastly has said the club just has to look at the opponent in front of it.

The “We Want Reddish’’ chants likely will continue until the Knicks make a move at the trade deadline to clear him a spot.

Cam Reddish did not play Wednesday. In his Knicks debut versus the Clippers on Jan. 23, he played 5:25 of the first half, but in the five games since, he has played in either garbage time or not at all.

“He’s been great with the early group and working in practice and that sort of thing,’’ Thibodeau said. “Right now, that’s the first step. Any time you get traded in the middle of the season, that’s it.

“When his opportunity comes, it’s about performance,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s gotta earn everything he’s going to get.”

MSG Networks’ sideline reporter Rebecca Haarlow is going on maternity leave and will be out indefinitely after working the game Wednesday night

Not that it was a bad pick for the Knicks to take Immanuel Quickley at No. 25 in 2020, but they did pass on current Grizzlies stud shooting guard Desmond Bane, who scored 13 points Wednesday and will be in the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend. Bane, who is averaging 18.1 points, was taken 30th — the last pick of the first round.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

What is an Assist in Basketball? (Full Explanation)
2-1-2 Press – Complete Coaching Guide