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Summer League Knicks: Keep an eye on Isaiah Roby

A journeyman with a big wingspan.

NBA: New York Knicks at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

With the recent trade of Obi Toppin, the New York Knicks have a hole at the reserve power forward position. Speculation abounds about how the team will address the opening, from slotting Josh Hart into the role to acquiring a big like Trendon Watford.

You are forgiven if you, like me, forgot that Isaiah Roby is on the team. The 25-year-old former Nebraska Cornhusker signed with the club in April but sat through the playoffs because he was not waived by the Spurs until March 3.

He is indeed a Knick, even if we have yet to see him in uniform.

In fact, Michael Scotto reported at, “With Toppin’s departure and not landing a power forward in free agency like Watanabe, the Knicks currently plan to give Isaiah Roby an opportunity as the primary backup forward to Julius Randle.”

Standing at 6’8” and weighing 230 pounds, Roby has played at both power forward and center positions. With a 7’3” wingspan, Roby can provide rim protection and grab rebounds while the other Isaiah (Hartenstein) roams, shoots, and dishes.

Roby is coming off a down season in San Antonio, during which he averaged only 11 minutes and four points per game. The previous year, he was a solid contributor for the OKC Thunder—he averaged ten points and almost five boards in 21 minutes per game. That season, Roby showcased his accuracy from beyond the arc, posting a 44.4% three-point shooting percentage (granted, on just over two attempts per game). Also that year, he achieved his career-high of 30 points in a game against the Trail Blazers.

And dunk fans, don’t despair: while he might not have those sweet Obi hops, Roby can make nice flushes at the rim.

The Knicks signed Roby with one game left in the regular season. states that his 2-year / $2.46M contract included $400,000 in guaranteed up-front money. During the 2023-24 season, Roby will earn a base salary of $2,066,585, with a cap hit of $2,066,585.

At the time, some marveled that Roby earned $400k for one game (for which he did not suit up). Evidently, the Knicks wanted to lock him into their 15th roster spot and dangled the money to motivate Roby to sign a non-guaranteed, minimum-salary deal. A chance remains that they could waive him before the start of the season.

Roby had a very respectable college career. As a freshman, he gained 35 pounds to fill out his frame. He proved to be a skilled rebounder and shot-blocker, logging an impressive 63 blocks as a sophomore. While a junior, his 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game powered Nebraska into the Big Ten tournament.

He has not yet found his mojo in the NBA, however. After being selected 45th in the 2019 Draft, he spent time with the Mavericks’ G-League club, then logged three years in OKC and one in San Antonio. When the Knicks play their first Summer League contest on Saturday, July 8, we’ll have our first chance to see Roby in a Knick uni.

If he performs well in Vegas, Roby will likely secure a spot on the team for the upcoming season. Although his playing time would be limited behind Julius Randle, Isaiah could expect to take the 15-ish minutes previously assigned to Obi Toppin and maybe earn more as the season unfolds.

Already a little seasoned, Roby still has potential to be a versatile 3-and-D wing who can contribute both offensively and defensively. Not a bad backup candidate, at all. Good luck at Summer League, Isaiah!