A simple statement of fact from Mitchell Robinson or another subliminal complaint about his role?
“The way we play is not set up for me to do any moves,” the Knicks center tweeted early Wednesday morning, not long after he scored six points on six shots in 26 minutes of a 140-110 victory over the Pistons.
The tweet was a response to a suggestion that Robinson should work with Amar’e Stoudemire on his post moves, which the 24-year-old clearly believes would be a waste of time in Tom Thibodeau’s system.
After a very brief flirtation with post moves in preseason and years of boasting about expanding his offensive repertoire, Robinson is again scoring almost exclusively on lobs and putbacks. All 56 of his field goal attempts before Wednesday were inside the paint. All but three of those were in the restricted area.
New York’s system calls for the center to protect the rim, rebound, set screens, clean up messes and touch the ball minimally. Two seasons ago — during Thibodeau’s first campaign with the Knicks — Robinson tweeted and deleted, “One day they’ll let me play.”
Robinson claimed it was a reference to something in his personal life, which didn’t pass the smell test considering it was sent immediately after he took just four shots in 31 minutes in a loss to the Jazz.
Then last season, Robinson again took a passive-aggressive approach by posting on Instagram, “One thing I learn after every game. …Literally running for cardio. …And playing help defense. …Let’s get it LOL.”
However Robinson feels about his utilization, it’s important to note he re-signed with the Knicks in the summer on a lucrative contract. The four years, $60 million exceeded the projections for Robinson’s free agency and he entered the season with plans of offensive expansion.
“I’m pretty sure everybody’s scouting report is just, ‘Lob, lob, this and that.’ So, you got to add. You got to,” Robinson said during preseason. “It’s Year 5. I got to do something.”
Except nothing changed. The Knicks signed two other centers in the summer — Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims — and they split time in November while Robinson suffered a sprained knee.
Just last week, Hartenstein revealed he’s been managing an Achilles injury and struggling to adjust to the systematic limitations.
“It’s adjusting to a different role where it’s playing more like [Robinson and Sims], I guess. Not more of what I’m used to,” Hartenstein said. “That’s been a little more difficult. And so I’m just adjusting to more of a Mitch role, where I’m just rolling into the pick-and-roll.”