Knicks can’t afford to lose Mitchell Robinson in free agency this offseason

The New York Knicks can’t afford to lose Mitchell Robinson this summer. Robinson, 24, is the longest-tenured Knick and has been vital to the team’s success. He’s an elite rim protector and lob threat and has continually improved since being drafted No. 36 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Robinson will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, meaning if he wants to sign with a new team, the Knicks can do nothing to stop him. Robinson has been linked to teams such as the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks, and since the Pistons have the second-most cap space in the NBA, this could be worrisome.

The good news is it seems like Robinson may be hinting on social media that he is planning to stay with the Knicks. Even if “The Block-Ness Monster” is just making it known that he prefers to stay in New York, that’s still good news.

Why should the New York Knicks re-sign Mitchell Robinson in free agency?

The fact of the matter is that Robinson is an elite athlete, is one of the best defensive big men in the NBA, is a great locker room presence, and is still young.

There is a decent chance a team with a heavy amount of cap space, like Detroit, could gamble on Robinson taking a giant leap forward into becoming a 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks type of player.

If the Pistons decide to overpay Robinson, he’ll probably follow the money, but the Knicks cannot let that happen (plus the organization has his Bird rights).

Robinson led New York in PER this year with a 20.78 rating. That rating is 30th in the NBA and is higher than All-Stars like Zach Lavine, Darius Garland, and LaMelo Ball. This is not the only time that Robinson has shown elite efficiency.

He broke the record for field-goal percentage in the 2019-2020 NBA season, beating Wilt Chamberlain’s 72.7% with a 74.2%. Also, Robinson broke the record again in the 2021-22 campaign, shooting 76.1% from the field.

While some will argue making shots below the rim while being 7-foot tall is not impressive, but look at everyone else on that list. Spots 3-7 are filled with players like DeAndre Jordan and Rudy Gobert, two centers who have each been viewed as top-5 NBA centers.

Another huge reason the Knicks need to avoid losing Robinson is the fact that he is the best unrestricted free agent center.

DeAndre Ayton will be a restricted free agent, and I find it hard to believe that with Robert Sarver being out of the picture the Suns will let the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 walk away when they’re likely the top contender for the NBA Finals.

The majority of New York fans feel a similar way about Robinson and it’s that the team should keep him as long as the price is right.

I’m not going to advocate for the Knicks to overpay to keep Robinson around, but I would be happy with a four-year, $50 million deal.

I am also fine with New York throwing him a two-year, $40 million deal where the second year has a team option, as that ensures cap flexibility and would motivate Robinson to play as well as he can to earn the most possible money.

The Knicks will have a glaring hole at starting center if they lose Robinson to free agency. Nerlens Noel is more of a good backup center than a starter, and Jericho Sims is probably not ready to be a starting center in the NBA.

New York will be in much better shape if it decides to keep Robinson, and after all, he will have some trade value regardless, so if they’re going to lose him, hopefully, it would be via a trade.