Proposed Knicks Trade Sends Mitchell Robinson Home

With the New York Knicks determined to re-sign Isaiah Hartenstein to a massive raise from his expired two-year $16 million deal, trading Mitchell Robinson is the only logical next step.

Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley proposed a trade that would send Robinson home to New Orleans and get the Knicks inside the top 10 of this year’s NBA Draft.

New York Knicks receive: No. 6 pick and Larry Nance Jr.

New Orleans Pelicans receive: Mitchell Robinson and No. 24 pick

“This deal would let the Knicks check that box while bringing back a completely serviceable (and cheaper) backup center in Nance. More importantly, it might deliver an optimal backcourt running mate for Jalen Brunson, provided [Stephon] Castle’s perimeter shot comes around. That’s about all the 6’6″ guard needs to add, since he can handle, create, finish and defend with ferocity,” Buckley wrote.

Robinson was the league’s top offensive rebounder over the last two seasons but he also missed 71 games during that span, which negated the marked improvement he’d shown.

The Pelicans can take a gamble on Robinson and bet that homecoming will give him a fresh start. If they do this trade, Robinson would replace Jonas Valanciunas as the Pelicans center.

Robinson averaged 8.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in six seasons with the Knicks. He was a high school star in Chalmette, Louisiana before the Knicks took him as the 36th overall pick in 2018.

Isaiah Hartenstein Proved He’s a Starting Caliber Center

The Knicks flourished with Hartenstein as their starting center. He provided spacing and playmaking with a floater range that Robinson lacked in his game. While Robinson was the much better interior defender, Hartenstein has made strides on that side of the ball during the shorthanded Knicks’ run to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

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Hartenstein joined Anthony Davis and Victor Wembanyama as the only players with 85 blocks and 85 steals in a season. He became the first player since Moses Malone in 1982 to record 12 offensive rebounds and five assists in a playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

In 64 starts, including the playoffs this season, Hartenstein averaged 9.1 rebounds, 8.6 points, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.2 blocks.

The Knicks have Hartenstein’s early Bird rights, meaning they can go over the salary cap to re-sign him. However, because of this, they are only limited to offering him a maximum of four years, $72.5 million, according to ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks.

Stephon Castle as Jalen Brunson’s Understudy

The Knicks would love to have Castle, who played a key role in the Huskies’ championship run. His positional size and defense would add tremendous value to the Knicks and complement Brunson, making him an ideal backup and understudy. While Castle’s outside shot is suspect, the Knicks have a solid track record of player development.

Miles McBride, an undersized version of Castle, has developed an outside shot with the Knicks after spending most of his first three seasons in the G League.

Castle, however, is projected to be selected at No. 4 in both ESPN and Bleacher Report’s Mock Draft going to San Antonio as Wembanyama’s running mate.

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