The New York Knicks were dealt a significant blow when they lost Mitchell Robinson to yet another injury. Initially, Robinson was expected to miss 8-10 weeks after undergoing right ankle surgery earlier this month. But as The Atheltic’s Shams Charania recently reported, the current expectation is that he will miss the remainder of the regular season after the Knicks recently applied for a disabled player exception.
Robinson was the fulcrum of a defensive scheme specifically designed around his skillset. The Knicks do not currently roster any great point-of-attack defenders and have relied on his versatility, switchability, rebounding, and shot-blocking to make up for where the rest of the roster lacks defensively. The seven-footer is not only an elite defender but a terrific rebounder, especially on the offensive glass, and now New York has a major void to fill in the heart of their lineup.
New York had been lackadaisical on defense and started struggling shortly before Robinson’s injury, and without their best defender and primary rim protector, the defense has continued to sputter out of control. In the frst six games without their starting big man, the Knicks have a 119.9 defensive rating and allow 52.3 points in the paint per game, compared to 111.9 and 44.7, respectively, before Robinson’s injury.
The Knicks need to explore the trade market to fill void at center
In an attempt to put a bandaid on the situation, the Knicks recently signed longtime Tom Thibodeau disciple Taj Gibson for the rest of the season. Gibson was a solid rebounder and rim protector in his prime, but at 38 years old, he’s no longer the athlete he once was. Before his season debut with the Knicks earlier this month, Gibson hadn’t appeared in an NBA game since April of last season with the Washington Wizards.
To make matters worse, Jericho Sims, whom Thibs initially elected to replace Mitch in the starting lineup, recently suffered a sprained ankle. Even when healthy, he can’t seem to keep himself out of foul trouble, limiting his value. Isaiah Hartenstein is a good rebounder but not a true rim protector and far from a defensive anchor.
If the Knicks want to remain a playoff team, they must address this gaping hole in their defense. At this time of the year, there's rarely any quality talent on the open market, so they must explore the trade market. Let's take a look at three centers the Knicks should consider trading for that can potentially fill Robinson's role and help improve their defense.