Knicks Notes: How Mitchell Robinson’s injury could affect rotation

Jan 18, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija (9) shoots over New York Knicks center Jericho Sims (45) in the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden.
Jan 18, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija (9) shoots over New York Knicks center Jericho Sims (45) in the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: Mitchell Robinson underwent surgery Thursday to repair a fractured right thumb, the team announced.

Mitchell Robinson will get tests on his right thumb Thursday to determine the extent of an injury he suffered in the Knicks’ loss to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

If Robinson misses time, it will put extra stress on the Knicks on both ends of the floor.

Entering play Wednesday, the Knicks had outscored opponents by 8.2 points per 100 possessions with Robinson on the court. When he’s off the court, New York had been outscored by 1.2 points per 100 possessions.

Tom Thibodeau didn’t rule out the possibility of starting Jericho Sims if Robinson is sidelined. Isaiah Hartenstein will also get consideration.

“I want to think it through in terms of what’s best for both groups [starters and reserves], what will make it function best,” Thibodeau said after New York’s loss to Washington. “Both guys have gone back-and-forth. We’ll get a chance to look at it deeper and make a decision.”

Thibodeau said Julius Randle could also play minutes at center.

“It’s just the next guy. I love the depth that we have at center,” he said. "We have three guys that are more than capable.”

WAIT A MINUTE

Thibodeau chided reporters for asking about the minutes played by the team’s rotation players of late, calling them the “minutes police.”

“I know you guys like to create the narrative for your stories and you don’t look at it in totality. I don’t think we have anyone in the top 20 in minutes played. So it is what it is,” the coach said. “I think you look at the people in your division and your conference. You look at how they’re playing their guys. More often than not you’re thinking about the matchups going into the game.

He continued, “When this guy’s on the floor we’re going to have this guy matched up with him. So that’s what you’re doing. Most teams are at eight, some are at seven [player rotations]. So I like nine, I like where that is, I like the rhythm. If you look at the numbers you’d have to say it’s okay.”

Thibodeau pointed out that the Knicks manage their players’ workload in practices and on off days.

“I can look at the box score and say this guy played 40 minutes, this guy played 36, this guy played 30, but you don’t know what the guy did the day before. You don’t know,” he said. “What did he do in practice? Maybe he didn’t have any contact in practice, maybe it was recovery day, or if he did do something in practice, you had a sub with him, and he did very little in practice. So there’s a lot of different things that go into pacing the team.”

The Knicks are 15-8 since Thibodeau went with a nine-man rotation. He removed Evan Fournier, Cam Reddish and Derrick Rose from the rotation and inserted Miles McBride. New York ranks in the top five in net rating, defensive rating and offensive rating in that span. Randle is second in minutes per game since the rotation change, and Brunson is 14th, per NBA.com.

Thibodeau obviously likes how the group is playing at the moment. He’ll have to change his rotation a bit if Robinson is out due to injury.

But it would be a surprise if he inserted a 10th man into the rotation or re-inserted someone like Rose, Fournier or Reddish.

Oct 19, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; New York Knicks forward Cam Reddish (0) reacts with guard Evan Fournier (13) after making a three point basket with 3.3 seconds left in regulation against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum.
Oct 19, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; New York Knicks forward Cam Reddish (0) reacts with guard Evan Fournier (13) after making a three point basket with 3.3 seconds left in regulation against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

REST ADVANTAGE

Thibodeau noted Wednesday that the Knicks had a schedule disadvantage on Monday when they played Toronto. New York was playing on the second game of a back-to-back. Toronto was coming off of an off day.

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann notes that the Knicks are the only team in the NBA that hasn't played a "rest advantage" game yet. Schuhmann also notes that the Knicks have played a relatively easy schedule to date.

According to Tankathon.com, New York has the second-toughest schedule remaining. That ranking is based on opponent win percentage.

CANDID DRAYMOND

Interesting conversation between Draymond Green and Stephen A. Smith on Smith’s Know Mercy Podcast.

Green gets into his future with the Golden State Warriors, Jordan Poole, basketball IQ and more…. Nice job by the Knicks and Chase donating $100,000 to Earl Monroe’s New Renaissance High School in the Bronx.

Monroe’s school has a curriculum focused on preparing students for jobs in basketball.