RJ Barrett on Mitchell Robinson's injury: 'It hurts us'
RJ Barrett (9) with Mitchell Robinson (23)  Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Knicks players were crushed to learn that center Mitchell Robinson suffered another serious injury Saturday night, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Playing his first game back in the starting lineup, the third-year center got hurt midway through the first quarter when he attempted a steal. Robinson landed awkwardly and wound up with a fracture in his right root. The Knicks announced the injury to the public, but didn’t tell the players until after the game.

“He worked so hard to get back,” RJ Barrett said. “To see him go down again, it hurts us, hurts the team. But we’re just — we’re gonna be with him every step of the way until he gets back.”

The timing is particularly bad for New York, coming on the same night that word leaked that LaMarcus Aldridge plans to sign with the Nets and Andre Drummond appears headed to the Lakers. The Knicks have cap room to use on the buyout market, but the two biggest names are already likely committed.

“He’ll be fine,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of Robinson. “He’ll have to go through rehab and stuff, but he’s been through that before, and just maximize his time that way. But you feel for a teammate. It’s part of the game, and you have to deal with it as best you can.”

There’s more from New York:

  • “One or two prominent voices” in the Knicks’ front office were in favor of pursuing Drummond before the organization cooled on the idea, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. He adds that the team had been hoping to use the rest of the season to evaluate how Robinson fits in Thibodeau’s system. The center is eligible for an extension this offseason, or New York could pick up his $1.8M option for next season and put him on track for restricted free agency in 2022. Begley states that Gorgui Dieng, Norvel Pelle and John Henson could be potential low-cost pickups for the Knicks, who have an open roster spot.
  • Assistant coach Kenny Payne will remain in New York, even though DePaul had strong interest in making him its next head coach, per Begley.
  • The Knicks were quiet at the trade deadline while teams around them in the standings made big moves, notes Steve Popper of Newsday. The organization has adopted a strategy of preserving its assets for the future, rather than gambling to make a playoff run this year.

This article first appeared on Hoops Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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