Mitchell Robinson attempted to swat away speculation about any unhappiness with his role with the Knicks.
After posting and deleting a tweet stating “One day they’ll let me play” following Tuesday’s loss in Utah, the third-year center addressed the media for the first time in nearly two weeks ahead of Friday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Garden.
“It was like a personal thing. So I really, at the same time, I don’t even want to talk about that,” Robinson said about the deleted tweet. “It’s just something that’s going on in my life. And I’ll leave that alone.”
Robinson played 31 minutes Tuesday against the Jazz, and he’s started each of the Knicks’ first 19 games, averaging a career-best 29.6 minutes per appearance.
Still, after setting an NBA record with a .742 field-goal percentage last season – almost exclusively on dunks and putbacks — the 22-year-old center has talked often about wanting to expand his offensive game to include taking more shots from outside the paint.
Robinson is averaging 9.1 points per game, down slightly from his output last season, when he averaged 9.7 in 61 games with only seven starts.
Asked directly Friday if he’d like to have a bigger role in the team’s offense, he replied: “I kind of like my role. We’re winning games, why change it? Know what I mean? Anything that I could do to help win more [would] be great, but I just want to keep it consistent. We’re doing pretty good right now, so why change?”
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau had said Thursday that he speaks regularly with Robinson, but they hadn’t discussed the deleted tweet.
“I really don’t pay attention to that stuff,” Thibodeau said. “And I’ve never coached through the media or social media or whatever that is. My conversations with him, that’s never come up.”
Thibodeau added that he believes Robinson is at his best when attacking the basket and anchoring the team’s defensive effort as a rim protector at the other end. Robinson ranked seventh in the NBA with 1.7 blocks per game through Thursday, while adding a career-best 8.4 rebounds per appearance.
“I know where he’s most efficient in all areas,” Thibodeau said. “The thing I focus on is our team and everyone doing what’s best for the team. And that’s where that lies.”
To that end, Robinson stressed he only was focusing on his matchup Friday with Cleveland big man Andre Drummond, who dominated in a 106-103 win over the Knicks with 33 points and 23 rebounds. Robinson was minus-19 in that game, and he finished with just five points and six boards with four fouls in 28 minutes.
“Oh definitely. Tonight I’m going to play a whole lot smarter. Going to come out here and get after it, give my best,” he said.
Robinson also was minus-15 in Tuesday’s loss in Utah and outdone on the stat sheet by All-Star center Rudy Gobert, who finished with 18 points and 19 rebounds.
Asked if he envisions eventually putting up numbers like Drummond’s and Gobert’s, Robinson added: “I know I can defend. I don’t really compare myself to other players. I mean, I’m worried about our team. Other players, they can talk about whatever they want to talk about. I’m just talking about us as Knicks.”
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