Shedding the stink of Madison Square Garden’s last two decades of basketball is no simple task, but the latest sign the Knicks might truly be trending in the right direction is confirmation that Mitchell Robinson will be the team’s starting center next season.
The tidbit was revealed by none other than Bobby Portis, one of the newest Knicks who is probably going to get plenty of opportunity to snatch up minutes at backup center, during a recent interview with the New York Post.
During his Knicks meetings June 30 in L.A., Portis was told by brass Robinson was starting center.
That nugget was actually eight paragraphs deep into the story, which mostly features Portis talking about how he is excited to join the Knickerbockers, regardless of his role as a bench player. In fact, Portis — who is 6’11” and had overall averages last season of 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting 39.3% from deep — thinks he could one day contend for the Sixth Man of the Year Award. That’s probably not in the cards for next season, unless the Knicks seriously overachieve and it is largely due to the play of Portis, but hey, goals are good.
Let’s get back to the matter at hand, which is Mitchell Robinson, starting center for the New York Knicks. Some might argue the decision to make Robinson the de facto starting center was obvious and shouldn’t really count as a choice at all, seeing as he is the only actual center on the roster and is also by far the best thing the Knicks have going for them.
However, nothing is certain, especially when it comes to the Knicks. Look no further than the 2017-18 season, when a 34-year-old Jarrett Jack started 56 games while 19-year-old, eighth overall draft pick Frank Ntilikina started only nine times. The Knicks finished 29-53 that year, by the way. Heck, last year Robinson himself only started 19 games, despite it being clear very early on that the Knicks were clearly very bad, and the team’s best bet was to get the youths as many minutes as possible without getting them hurt.
For years, Knicks fans have had to watch as other teams made sensible decisions while the Knicks were Bart Simpson attempting to grab the cupcake Lisa had attached to an electronic shocking device.
But it seems the front office might have finally figured out that, no, the best players in the league aren’t going to join the Knicks simply because they are the Knicks. That isn’t a wonderful magic aura surrounding MSG, it’s smoke emanating from the sewer. To lure top talent, teams need to be able to prove they are building a proper team, and proper teams start with actual building blocks.
Mitchell Robinson is the tallest and shiniest building block the Knicks have right now, and it’s nice to see the team appears to understand it’s time to start showcasing him as such.
For those still wary of whether the Knicks are really turning over a new leaf as an organization, try to relax. The regular season is still far off in the distance, and it’s totally fine to have a summer fling with optimism. Here, let this Portis quote from the above-linked New York Post article, in which he talks up the team’s new bench, sooth your weary soul.
“I think we’ll be a top-ranked [bench] after the Clippers with Lou [Williams] and Montrell Hazell — that’s pretty strong. With our bench we have really good weapons in me, Marcus [Morris], Taj [Gibson], Allonzo Trier, Wayne Ellington. The list goes on.
“We have a quality rotation of guys in the league for a while now. That’s being slept on and not really talked about. People are living in the past with the Knicks. We’re not part of that. We have to create the now and present.”