Bleacher Report's trade Knicks wish they could do underrates injured player's impact

It's a good thing the Knicks can't make this trade.

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson
New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson / Elsa/GettyImages

Over a month has passed since the 2024 NBA trade deadline. The New York Knicks traded Quentin Grimes and Evan Fournier for Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks. So far, the trade hasn't gone as hoped, but the Knicks still aren't at full strength.

Regarding injuries, New York has been without Mitchell Robinson (ankle) since early December. Julius Randle (shoulder) and OG Anunoby (elbow) went down in late January. The Anunoby trade was a hit from the beginning, but he played in 14 games before getting injured. The good news is that he's set to return very soon.

As for the other two, Randle has progressed to light contact, and Robinson can run and jump again. Fans can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Since the Knicks selected him in the second round of the 2018 draft, Robinson has dealt with a few different injuries. Because of his injury history, Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley speculated that New York wishes it could trade Robinson for Marcus Smart.

"A healthy Robinson is a difference-maker in the middle, but the Knicks know all too well that the bouncy big man is no stranger to the injury bug. He has only reached 70 games in one of his six NBA seasons and will land way short of that mark, as it's unclear when (or if) he'll make it back from December ankle surgery."

Zach Buckley, Bleacher Report

To be fair to Buckley, the piece was published on March 5, two days before the most recent update on Robinson's status. Still, there isn't much reason why the Knicks should want to trade one injured player for another.

Bleacher Report proposes Knicks-Grizzlies trade centered around Mitchell Robinson

In the proposed trade, New York would give up Robinson for a 2024 first-round pick (top-3 protected), a 2025 second-round pick (via HOU or OKC), and a 2027 second-round pick (via ATL), and Smart. It's hard to understand why Memphis would be willing to give that up for Robinson whenever Jaren Jackson Jr. is the Grizzlies' starting center.

Beyond looking at the trade from Memphis' point of view, New York fans have been itching to get Robinson back. Before he hurt his ankle, he was in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. He was a monster on the boards. Robinson was averaging 6.2 points, a career-best 10.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. He was on a roll.

Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. Robinson will finish the regular season playing in less than half of the 82 games. He played in 21 before getting hurt. Last season, though, he played in 59. The season before that, he played in a career-high 72. Swapping out Robinson for Smart, who has played in one less game than New York's center this season, wouldn't affect the Knicks the way Buckley thinks it would.

Isaiah Hartenstein is more than worthy of being a starting center in today's NBA, but having him and a healthy Robinson in the playoffs will be massive. Remember what Robinson did against Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley last year? With all due respect to Jericho Sims, things wouldn't be the same if he or Precious Achiuwa came off the bench to back up Hartenstein.

Robinson is the kind of player that opposing fans underestimate. He doesn't shoot threes — he actually doesn't shoot at all. He's no Nikola Jokic. He's no Kristaps Porzingis. Where he gets you is on the defensive end and on the boards. Try to attack the paint with Robinson down low. Try to outrebound him.

Knicks fans don't underestimate Robinson. They know what he's capable of. Smart's a great defender, but let's not talk about trading Mitch, please! He still has two full seasons left on his current contract. There's plenty of reason to believe the best is yet to come from the 25-year-old big man.

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