The New York Knicks need to seriously consider adding another center now that Mitchell Robinson is out again with a broken foot.
The Knicks’ third-year big man suffered a broken right foot in Saturday night’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks. To add insult to injury, Robinson only just returned from a broken hand. Until he’s re-evaluated Sunday, it must be assumed he’ll miss extended time.
This leaves Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson as the Knicks’ top options at the center position, and Julius Randle can probably play some emergency minutes there as well.
But that’s not enough. The New York Knicks need to add some more size now, and fast.
What they’re losing
Mitchell Robinson is just shy of his 23rd birthday, but was already taking a huge step forward in his young career this season. He only averaged 8.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game this season, but finally got his foul trouble under control.
Robinson was also in a position to set a new personal best in defensive win shares (DWS), and his offensive rating (ORtg) for the year is currently at 131. That means for every 100 Knicks possessions, the team is 31 points better when Robinson is on the floor.
And Robinson is also highly valuable on defense, ranking sixth in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game. Though New York went 9-6 in his recent absence, losing him for even more time could hurt the Knicks quite badly.
If team president Leon Rose is smart, he’ll work the phones to sign another center this week.
Mind you, none of this is to say Noel and Gibson can’t carry the slack while Mitchell Robinson recovers. In fact, Noel did a great job stepping up in Robinson’s absence and is averaging 5.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in March. Those numbers aren’t the prettiest, sure, but Noel also leads the NBA in defensive box plus/minus (DBPM).
Except, Noel too has struggled with injuries for his entire career. In fact, he missed Thursday’s game against Washington with a bum shoulder and missed some time earlier too. Gibson can still perform at a high level and is a hometown hero, but he’s also 35 years old.
It’s clear the Knicks need to add some size, but how? Andre Drummond just got bought out recently and is from nearby Mt. Vernon, and also played his college ball at UConn. Marc Berman of The New York Post reported earlier the Knicks weren’t interested in Drummond, but has since walked that back. Meanwhile, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports the Los Angeles Lakers are the favorites to sign Drummond.
Another possibility is Gorgui Dieng, waived recently by the Memphis Grizzlies. He also played for coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota and is 6-foot-10 and can hold his own on defense, but doesn’t really offer much else save for occasionally stretching the floor.
Otherwise, DeMarcus Cousins is on the market and Al Horford could soon be too. Either way, the Knicks need to add a center and have a sense of urgency about it.
Mitchell Robinson is just that big of a loss and the Knicks are in the thick of the playoff race. Being complacent and waiting for him to return simply will not do. At all.
Your move, Mr. Rose.