mitchell robinson knicks
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks expect to have Mitchell Robinson back on the floor sooner rather than later as he ramps up his contact work in practice.

The New York Knicks have been without starting center Mitchell Robinson since March, but that might be changing soon. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau feels that the fourth-year big is close to returning.

“Ideally yes,” Thibs said in regards to Robinson playing in the Knicks’ final preseason game on Friday.

“Every day there’s more contact, there’s more that he’s doing, and then you want to see how he responds the next day. There’s still the conditioning element of it. He’s done a lot. He’s come back every night and he’s put a lot of extra work in so we feel good about where he is.”

This is exceptional news for the Knicks. He could return to action on Friday and presumably, he should be ready for the season opener on Wednesday.

Robinson has been an anchor in the paint since entering the league as a second-round draft pick. He’s the perfect big man for Thibodeau’s defensive system.

He averaged 8.3 points on 65.3% shooting in 31 games with Thibs last year. Although his per-game block numbers dipped down from 2.2 in his first two years to 1.5 in 2020-21, there was no dip in his overall production. Robinson’s contributions were invaluable.

Nerlens Noel took over for Robinson in the starting lineup during the 2020-21 season. He will miss Wednesday’s preseason game as he deals with a hamstring injury.

The Knicks will finish out the preseason with games against the Pistons (Wednesday) and Wizards (Friday).