Knicks center Mitchell Robinson’s social media tweets are getting bigger and bolder — along with his body.
The Knicks’ 2018 second-round pick is finally out of a walking boot, which he wore in a photo taken July 29. Across August, the high flyer has worked out with Knicks coaches in New Orleans and Las Vegas, where the Knicks were stationed for the recently completed summer league.
Assistant coach Kenny Payne, in charge of the big men, spent a few days with Robinson in Las Vegas, and the coaching staff is impressed with the 7-footer’s increasing strength.
Knicks brass was in Vegas, as were Robinson’s reps from Wasserman, including Thad Foucher, his sixth agent.
According to an NBA source, Knicks president Leon Rose is now open to a contract extension for the 23-year-old Robinson before the Oct. 20 season opener “as long as it’s not crazy.”
The Knicks re-signed center Nerlens Noel to a three-year deal, giving them less urgency and more leverage.
However, it’s a risk for both sides to wait for the season to start. Robinson is coming off his most troubled season when he suffered two major injuries — a broken hand and a broken foot — and played in just 31 games.
Robinson, who started when healthy, wasn’t too durable the prior two seasons either and isn’t blessed with a high basketball IQ. Robinson played in 66 of 82 games in his rookie year. He logged 61 of 66 games in his sophomore campaign.
However, Robinson’s market value can still soar if he starts the season with the kind of panache that led him to be named to the 2019 All-Rookie second team. Rose, the former CAA agent, knows the pros and cons of waiting.
Scott Perry drafted Robinson 36th overall in the 2018 draft, and it could stand as one of the Knicks GM’s crowning achievements if Robinson fulfills his vast potential.
Beauty — and shot blocking — is in the eye of the beholder, and that so far is Robinson’s elite skill on defense. His offensive game is very limited but impactful. In his first three seasons, he’s scored almost solely on alley-oops and putbacks in a league that has become about shooters with less reliance on old-school centers.
Though Robinson has been too shy to loft jump shots in games, his value intensified when he missed the first-round playoff series loss to the Hawks. The Knicks had no answers for center Clint Capela while their pick-and-roll coverage was substandard against point guard Trae Young.
“I’m bigger and stronger can’t wait to see how this year go,’’ Robinson tweeted Sunday.
That followed a tweet last week in which Robinson boasted: “Man let me lock in bro I definitely can either get DPOY or at least be in the conversation #personalgoal.”
On Saturday, Robinson chimed in again: “Im a great teammate I get a block or stop and my teammate get the bucket.’’
NBA intelligentsia regard the four-year, $54 million contract extension the Celtics lavished last week on center Robert Williams as an outlier and not commensurate with market standards considering Williams’ light résumé.
The Knicks are not believed to want to go that high. One concern will always be whether the New Orleans product will lose a trace of motivation with all that guaranteed money.
League insiders consider Robinson’s current value — given his injury-riddled past — more in the four-year, $44 million range. A sweetener is giving Robinson a player option for the fourth year.
That pact is essentially a deal that would start a little higher than the mid-level exception in 2022. Next season, Robinson stands to make just $1.8 million after signing a team-friendly four-year deal out of the draft.
Even if Robinson gets slightly more than mid-level money, the Knicks will be paying plenty for a center position that’s been devalued.
Noel signed a three-year, $32 million deal, with a team option on the final season. Veteran grit-meister Taj Gibson re-signed for two years, $10 million.
If Robinson gets an extension, a trade to break the center logjam is likely to occur. Robinson should have more trade value if tied up to a reasonable long-term deal instead of being eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2022. That’s a large motivator for Rose to work out a deal.
In Las Vegas, Robinson tweeted, “I look big asf them weights doing me some good and form looking great thanks Knicks staff.’’
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