mitchell robinson
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson will have left ankle surgery this week and miss 8-10 weeks, the team announced Monday.

Robinson has been the anchor of the Knicks’ defense this season. He has averaged a career-best 10.3 rebounds per game this year, 5.3 of which are on the offensive glass. His dominance on defense had yours truly thinking him an early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

Unfortunately, reality set in and the Knicks will once again work through a Mitchell Robinson injury. The 25-year-old seven-footer is in his sixth NBA season and has only appeared in more than 70 games once. Robinson missed a month last season because of an injured thumb. In 2020-21, he missed time recovering from hand and foot surgeries.

So what does this mean for the Knicks besides the obvious pursuit of Joel Embiid? Well, that’s basically it. Robinson is in the second year of a four-year, $60 million deal and isn’t going to suddenly become less injury-prone. The Knicks should absolutely use their vast draft capital to try and acquire Embiid from the 76ers, perhaps even sending Robinson to Philadelphia too.

In the meantime, the Knicks will roll with Isaiah Hartenstein and the high-upside Jericho Sims, and hope for the best. Hartenstein is a strong defender and has the size to create mismatches, but isn’t as strong as Robinson.

As for Sims, this may be his last chance at regular playing time. He isn’t particularly quick on his feet and doesn’t have great awareness on defense. Like Mitchell Robinson in his early days, Sims is quick to get into foul trouble.

Thus, the Knicks’ next two months will go one of two ways. Either they thrive with Hartenstein and Sims and keep pace in the East, or we’ll start hearing a lot more about Joel Embiid closer to February.

Stay tuned.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.