Mitchell Robinson: Re-sign him in 2021
Coming off two pandemic-impacted seasons, it’s impossible to know exactly what the salary cap will look like in 2021, but it most likely will be a depressed market at the same time when some of the league’s most prominent players become free agents.
If the Knicks extend Robinson this offseason by declining his fourth-year team option to offer him a quicker payday, his inflated 2021-22 salary would count against the cap next summer instead of a much lower amount had they waited to re-sign him.
New York can manipulate the cap hold on Robinson in 2021 by delaying his extension in order to maximize their cap space.
Since the Louisiana native has a team option for 2021-22, his cap hold would originally be the club option amount ($1.8 million), unless the Knicks decline it to make him a restricted free agent. At that point, if he meets starter criteria this upcoming season (starts at least 41 games), his qualifying offer would be that of the 21st pick in the 2018 draft, or about $4.9 million, which is slightly higher than 190% of his previous salary, which would be his free agent cap hold if his qualifying offer was lower.
Similar to what the Knicks could have done with Kristaps Porzingis, had they not traded him to Dallas before he was eligible to become an RFA, they can keep Robinson’s cap hold on the books to save some cap space before using his Bird rights to possibly exceed the cap to re-sign him after signing several other players.
While the Knicks would have complete control on the negotiation process for an extension in 2020, by waiting until 2021 and making him an RFA, they would open themselves up to other teams extending an offer sheet, which could inflate the value of his contract.
Robinson would be eligible to earn a maximum contract (with a starting salary as high as 25% of the cap) as a restricted free agent next offseason.