The New York Knicks are allegedly in the unenviable position of exploring trade proposals for their longest-tenured player. Mitchell Robinson has been a member of the Knicks since 2018. The seven-footer has developed into a rebounding machine, dominating the offensive glass. He’s also an incredible rim defender. Sadly, Robinson is also injury-prone, having missed 20 or more games in four of his six professional seasons. But Robinson has been professional throughout his tenure, even accepting a bench role in the 2024 playoffs. So, how does a team go about trading such an important piece? Let’s explore.

Robinson is inarguably valuable to the Knicks. He has been among the league leaders in offensive rebounds (per game). And his defensive performance against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2024 playoffs was flat-out inspiring. But Robinson is also fairly injury-prone. He’s injured his ankles multiple times. He’s suffered a concussion. And a groin injury. Subsequently, he’s missed considerable time across a number of seasons.

But the Knicks clearly feel compelled to re-sign Isaiah Hartenstein. And they have allegedly begun discussing Robinson trades with other teams, per Jake Fisher of Yahoo Sports.

But in doing so, the Knicks must have a plan. Specifically, what do they want to get out of a Mitchell Robinson trade? That has to be thought out beforehand. Let’s explore what New York should look for in a deal.

Knicks would (obviously) be wise to add a star

Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) dribbles the basketball against the Miami Heat in the second quarter during a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Kaseya Center.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Robinson’s salary and injury history make the idea of returning a star for him seem impossible. But a Robinson trade doesn’t necessarily have to be a one-for-one deal. New York can add another contract (e.g., Bojan Bogdanovic) to a trade to increase its appeal. Robinson is still only 26 years old. So, he has utility to contenders and rebuilding teams alike. And Bogdanovic’s expiring deal provides a degree of salary cap relief.

Granted, this type of a deal won’t return a top-level star. But maybe the Knicks should engage the Phoenix Suns. Or the Chicago Bulls. Or the Atlanta Hawks. Because turning Robinson (and potentially Bogdanovic) into DeMar DeRozan or Dejounte Murray (or maybe even Devin Booker, if the deal were to be expanded) would be a win. And it could also solve another Knicks’ need.

New York adds role player(s), moves up in the 2024 NBA Draft

The Knicks are obviously looking to improve their team. And while Tom Thibodeau is notoriously down on the idea of playing rookies, he’s shown a willingness to play youngsters more of late. And he would almost certainly entertain using one in his second unit. So, the idea of swapping Robinson and one of their first-round picks for a role player and a lottery pick in the 5-10 range seems like a decent gamble, assuming the role player fits New York’s needs (e.g., back-up point guard or back-up center).

There are few lottery teams who would/should seek out a deal for Robinson. But that doesn’t mean some wouldn’t benefit from his presence. Conversely, the idea of adding a future first-rounder could be appealing, too. So, New York should also be in touch with the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, and New Orleans Pelicans, as all would clearly benefit from Robinson’s skill set. This type of deal would require one of the aforementioned teams to swing a deal first, as they currently own the 17th, 9th, and 21st picks, respectively. This means only Memphis’ pick might move the needle for New York.

But the quality of role-player dictates a lot, too. Adding Austin Reaves (Los Angeles) would be a seemingly big win. Adding Larry Nance Jr. (New Orleans) would be less impactful. Still, the Knicks have to listen to all offers.

Ultimately, New York should listen to offers for most of their players. But actually executing a trade is an entirely different story. Should New York part with Robinson? Probably not. But if there are concerns around his recovery from injury or if he’ll be less-than-pleased with a bench role, a trade might be in everyone’s best interest. Parting is most certainly such sweet sorrow. But if it improves New York’s changes, so be it.