The Knicks’ frontcourt depth was once a strength but a recent rash of injuries has left New York’s rotation of big men depleted. No injury looms larger than that of center Mitchell Robinson.
When the Knicks visited the Celtics on Dec. 8, Robinson sustained an ankle injury at some point during the first half. Robinson, a full-time starter for New York, was notably absent when the second half began. He returned during the third quarter but labored up and down the court before he was subbed out for good. On Dec. 11, the franchise announced that Robinson would undergo left ankle surgery.
Through 21 games, Robinson was enjoying one of his most productive seasons as a pro. While he’s averaging a career-low 6.2 points per game, Robinson is averaging a career-best 10.3 rebounds per game on a career-high 29.2 minutes per game. His 5.3 offensive rebounds per game lead the NBA.
How long is Robinson out and what does this mean for him and the Knicks moving forward? Here is the latest on his status for the season.
What is Mitchell Robinson’s injury?
Per the Knicks, Robinson suffered a stress fracture in his left ankle.
The injury occurred during New York’s loss to Boston on Friday, Dec. 8. Despite going down with the injury, Robinson attempted to play in the second half before exiting the game for good.
During the third quarter, it was evident that Robinson was dealing with some type of ailment. The 7-footer moved gingerly before being taken out. He finished the game with 10 points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes of action.
In addition to Robinson’s injury, center Jericho Sims suffered a sprained ankle on Dec. 18 and on Dec. 20, was given a timetable of 7-to-10 days to return. Following Robinson’s injury, the team signed 38-year-old big man Taj Gibson and following Sims’ injury, New York added 7-1 center Dmytro Skapintsev via a two-way contract.
How long is Mitchell Robinson out?
There have been conflicting reports and statements regarding Robinson’s absence.
On Dec. 11, the Knicks announced that Robinson would be evaluated in 8-to-10 weeks after undergoing surgery. And while Robinson will likely be evaluated in early February, an evaluation doesn’t necessarily signal an imminent return.
On Dec. 20, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Knicks applied for a $7.8 million Disabled Player Exception (DPE), signaling a belief within the organization that Robinson would be out for the remainder of the season.
On Dec. 22, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said that the team would not be changing from the 8-to-10-week timetable, adding that any questions regarding reports of a DPE application should be directed to Knicks team president Leon Rose.
What is a Disabled Player Exception (DPE)?
As defined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and its players’ association, a Disabled Player Exception permits a team to sign or acquire one player to replace a player who, as a result of a disabling injury or Illness, is unable to play.
By definition, an injury is deemed disabling if team and league physicians believe “more likely than not that the player would be unable to play through the following June 15.”
In Charania’s report, he added that “NBA doctors will go through their review soon,” indicating Robinson’s injury could be worse than it was initially believed to be.