Mitchell Robinson, in the season opener Wednesday against the Celtics, he’s ready to start at center for the Knicks, he says.
It is not fixed yet as Tom Thibodeau who is their head coach, will be making the key decision on his starting center.
In almost 7 months, Robinson played for the first time on Friday, logging 27 minutes off the bench in their preseason-ending win over the Wizards, but he also looked exhausted some times in between. 9 rebounds were collected by Robinson, out of which 6 were on the offensive glass, but was 3-for-8 from the field.
“It wasn’t that bad, but it was bad,’’ Robinson said of his conditioning level.
He wasn’t the usual target of alley-oop lobs. He said that he needs to get his timing down again around the rim.
“I got to work on my finishing, get my touch back,’’ Robinson said. “That’s the main thing. Once I get my conditioning back — that’s the main thing — so I can play all day, I’ll be all right.
“I felt like tonight I rushed it instead of taking my time like I how it was before all this happened,’’ Robinson added.
Robinson even flexed his muscles to the crowd after one hard dunk, after breaking his foot in late March and undergoing surgery.
“I worked on my body all summer so I got to show it off,’’ Robinson said.
Nerlens Noel, who missed all of training camp with a hamstring injury, and Taj Gibson, who started all four preseason games, are Thibodeau’s center options.
Thibodeau has taken some time to warm up to Robinson. Robinson’s maturity level, according to sources, was an issue with Thibodeau. The Knicks’ coach, on the other hand, detects a shift.
“Just our conversations with him,’’ Thibodeau said. “We’ve spent a lot of time together. We talked a lot about games he played in last year, even in games he wasn’t in and what he saw. Just watching how he’s processing things, understanding his responsibility in schemes. There’s a lot of growth there. Just the way he practices and his concentration level, it’s much, much better.’’