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The Chicago Bulls appear to be the New York Knicks’ top competition for impending unrestricted free agent center Mitchell Robinson, per Marc Berman of the New York Post.
“The Post has learned the Bulls are continuing to do their research on Robinson ahead of the July 1 free-agency period. The Bulls could be the main competitors for Robinson if the Knicks don’t lock him up to a contract extension on June 30.
“The Bulls want to enhance their interior defense and believe Robinson could be a good fit slotted alongside offensive center Nikola Vucevic. …
“Meanwhile, an NBA source said center-starved Dallas is not expected to be interested in Robinson at his hefty price tag (at least $11M per year) and have set their sights on cheaper free-agent centers.”
Robinson, 24, averaged 8.5 points on 76.1 percent shooting to go with 8.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game for the Knicks last season. He’s played four NBA campaigns since New York selected him 36th in the 2018 draft.
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer also reported a Bulls-Robinson connection and noted the team is interested in Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert.
As Berman noted, the Mavericks are in the market for a center but don’t appear willing to pay a potential $11 million-per-year contract for Robinson.
The Knicks could agree to a new deal with him by June 30, thereby preventing him from entering the free-agent market. Berman reported that the Knicks can offer him a four-year, $55 million max extension.
Unsurprisingly, though, Robinson is expected to test the free-agent waters, per SNY’s Ian Begley, who also noted that the center and team were “far apart” on earlier extension talks this year:
“In the days after the NBA Lottery, multiple people in touch with the Knicks say they were considering offseason scenarios for the center position if Robinson signs elsewhere.
“I wouldn’t read too much into this, though. Any competent NBA team plans for all possible outcomes of their own player’s free agency.
“Also, it’s worth noting that the Knicks have sent trainers to work with Robinson this offseason, per a league source.”
If Robinson leaves, then Nerlens Noel would be the top center on the depth chart. Noel was held to just 25 games this past season for numerous reasons, including left and right knee injuries, the league’s health-and-safety protocols and plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
The 28-year-old Noel averaged 3.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks in 22.5 minutes per game.