Knicks trading Mitchell Robinson unlikely until Isaiah Hartenstein free agency decision

The New York Knicks are currently in a contemplative phase regarding their formidable center rotation, with recent reports suggesting discussions around Mitchell Robinson’s future with the team.

Last season started promisingly for the 26-year-old Robinson as the Knicks’ starting center, showcasing his dominance in the paint and on the boards. Unfortunately, an ankle surgery in December sidelined him for a significant portion of the campaign, allowing Isaiah Hartenstein to step up admirably and solidify his place in the team’s plans, potentially earning a lucrative contract in free agency.


According to Yahoo’s Jake Fischer, Hartenstein is widely expected to re-sign with the Knicks, a move that would bolster their already robust center rotation. The prospect of retaining both Hartenstein and Robinson would position the Knicks as one of the NBA’s strongest in the center position. Hartenstein’s impact in Robinson’s absence was notable, yet Robinson’s defensive prowess against elite bigs like Joel Embiid in the playoffs underscored his undeniable value.

Fred Katz from The Athletic echoed sentiments that the Knicks are unlikely to part ways with Robinson without securing Hartenstein’s return first, emphasizing the team’s cautious approach. Katz highlighted on his podcast “Katz and Shoot” that unless the Knicks are absolutely certain about Hartenstein’s re-signing, they are unlikely to risk depleting their center options.

While Katz acknowledged concerns over Robinson’s injury history and missed games over recent seasons, he also recognized Robinson’s effectiveness when healthy and his team-friendly contract. Robinson’s ability as a rim protector and offensive rebounder has been pivotal for the Knicks, albeit their desire to potentially explore options for a center with floor-spacing abilities.

Under coach Tom Thibodeau, the Knicks have primarily operated without five-out lineups due to their centers’ traditional roles and Thibodeau’s strategic preferences. Exploring the market for Robinson could be part of a broader strategy to diversify the team’s offensive options and lineup flexibility.

However, Katz emphasized that while trade talks are exploratory in nature, a deal involving Robinson does not appear imminent. The Knicks are assessing their options prudently, mindful of maintaining a competitive center rotation while exploring avenues to enhance their overall team composition.

In essence, while discussions swirl around Robinson’s future, the Knicks’ approach remains cautious and methodical as they navigate the complexities of roster management and strategic evolution under Thibodeau’s guidance.