Obi Tobbin is an Indiana Pacer. Julius Randle remains in New York. And the Knicks’ plan to back him up seems to be … Isaiah Roby?
The former second-round pick signed a two-year deal with the Knicks in April and has joined the team in Las Vegas for the annual NBA Summer League. He averaged 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in those three games and shot 44% from the field. Not at all bad for an expected backup power forward.
Except it’s summer league. The 25-year-old Roby isn’t playing against All-Stars or even former stars on the back nine of their career. He’s matched up with largely rookies, second-year players, and depth guys. This isn’t the preseason where teams gradually play the starters more and more.
All this to say the Knicks can absolutely do better than Roby. Anyone who’s followed him since he came out of Tim Miles’ aggressively mediocre program at Nebraska knows he isn’t exactly a star in the making. Toppin at least has the potential to grow on another team.
Not Roby. He’s already smaller for a power forward at 6-foot-8, 230 pounds. He isn’t a strong rebounder or defender and doesn’t bring enough to be a viable scoring option. It doesn’t help that Roby can only kinda-sorta shoot the three.
So what is the Knicks’ plan with Roby? Is he Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau’s dream backup power forward and has been all this time? Roby is flawed but not a complete disaster. He held his own on a tanking Thunder team in 2021-22 and averaged 10.1 points per game.
The downside is that Roby only appeared in 45 games that year. Additionally, his career high in games played is 61. As we’ve seen in Thibodeau’s three years on the job, a player’s best ability is often his availability.
But thankfully, the Knicks don’t appear finished. Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reports the front office is actively seeking to move Evan Fournier in a multi-team deal. If the Knicks net a high-upside 4 back, all the better.
Regardless of Leon Rose’s plan, Roby doesn’t seem like a forever solution. He might have a few good games here and there, but as the Knicks’ primary backup to Randle? That seems farfetched no matter how much Toppin had to go.
Let’s just hope that independent of Roby, the Knicks’ plan is more than just running it back plus adding Donte DiVincenzo.
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