No game today, so I figured we could use a new thread, so let’s check in with Stefan Bondy to see how things are doing in Knick-land:
David Fizdale sent his message loud and clear last game: Julius Randle and his $63 million contract take priority, even at the expense of Mitchell Robinson. It backfired spectacularly.
It’s hard to blame Fizdale for the cascade of losing that has once again besieged the Knicks. Steve Mills and Scott Perry created this roster with more headscratchers than a lice-infested nursery school. But Fizdale cannot fail with developing Robinson, who has taken a backseat to the glut of frontcourt free agency additions.
The 21-year-old, by far the most encouraging prospect during last season’s march to the bottom of the standings, is averaging just 19.2 minutes through six games. It’s a big drop from the 30 minutes he averaged in the final 11 games of last season. There has been little indication of improvement in his game since this campaign started.
What’s fascinating to me is that Bondy ended the article with this take…
To his credit, Robinson was saying all the right things following Sunday’s loss. But the bottom line is that Randle should learn how to play with Robinson, not force him off the court.
“They wanted me to come off the bench. I mean they wanted to see how they would do with (Portis) starting,” Robinson said. “I’m gonna support the decision. I’m still on the team right?”
While Marc Berman, in his article on the topic, included that quote, but also include the follow-up by Robinson, where he states:
“Usually I stay in the dunker’s spot,” said Robinson, an alley-oop machine as a rookie. “I really don’t get into the corner. Bobby gets into the corner. It’s not the natural spot I run to. Me coming off the bench, I guess (Fizdale) sees a lot of spacing there. I can’t tell you that part. You got to ask him.”
That sure paints a much different story than Bondy’s take, right? You never want to get into a position where a player is saying stuff like, “I don’t know. Ask the coach.” As that obviously suggests that the player isn’t on the same page as his coach and moreover, that he’s clearly frustrated enough that he’s willing to say something inflammatory like that out loud. These guys aren’t dummies, they know what “I can’t tell you that part. You got to ask him” sounds like and so Robinson’s willingness to go there is not a good thing.
As Bondy notes, you simply can’t prioritize Randle’s development over Robinson’s. If Randle can’t adapt, then whatever, it’s a sunk cost either way. If Robinson can’t adapt, you’re hurting the very future foundation of this team (along with RJ Barrett). Also, think about the fact that Randle is their highest-paid player and then think about the idea that he still needs to be developed. That’s not a good sign. That was one of the best reasons for not maxing Porzingis, that you don’t want to commit big money to a guy who is still getting there and the thought/hope was that Randle was already there yet, so him not only not being there yet and needing to have the Knicks’ bright young star moved out of the rotation to help the veteran‘s development? That is just cuckoo bananas.
It’s also extremely Knicksy.