Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson on Rich Paul divorce: ‘It was just personal stuff’
Mitchell Robinson vows his sixth agent might be the charm.
In raising eyebrows by firing superagent Rich Paul to join the powerful Los Angeles-based Wasserman Group over the weekend, the quirky Knicks center said he’s just trying to get it right.
Since before the 2017 draft, Robinson has had six different reps. Wasserman’s Thad Foucher is the latest. (Joe Smith will also be part of the Wasserman mix). A source said Robinson’s trainer, Marcel Scott, is close to Foucher, who has eyed Robinson for more than a year.
Robinson’s reputation is intriguing because he signed an unorthodox contract after being drafted in the second round – a modest, four-year deal filled with team options. He’s under contract for next season but it’s a team option that would pay just $1.8 million.
The Knicks, if they are still convinced Robinson is their center of the future, can do the right thing and give him an extension or just rip up the final year.
“It is (frustrating),’’ Robinson said about switching reps so often. “Not having an agent, it is. But it’s like a thing where you learn and you learn until you get the right one. So that’s basically what I’m doing until I get the one that’s really down for me. It’s a lesson.’’
The Knicks’ young shotblocker now has a new head coach to impress in Tom Thibodeau, his third since being drafted.
Paul, who reps LeBron James and Anthony Davis, among others at Klutch Sports, wanted to be a difference-maker with Robinson and teach him the finer points of how the league is played and works. But now he’s been bounced.
“It was just like personal stuff,” Robinson said. “I don’t really want to get into that. But it was just personal. I just felt like I needed something different.”
In a story published in April in The Post, Paul said he felt he could be a real factor in Robinson’s maturity – which has been an issue after he dropped out of Western Kentucky before classes began to sit out the year training.
Those maturity issues led him to dropping into the second round. The Post reported Saturday the Knicks were disappointed Robinson didn’t show up a little sooner to work with coaches before their official training camp began Dec. 1.
However, Robinson sounds like he’s worked hard on his own, gaining 10 pounds during the pandemic offseason.
“Now I’m 250,” Robinson said. “Last year I was like 240, I want to say. So I mean that’s pretty great. Working out all summer and maintaining the weight.’’
In one of the best battles of training camp, Robinson is facing off against young veteran Nerlens Noel, who is repped by Paul, for the starting job. Robinson denies he’s thinking about his next contract.
“Not really, I’m just going to play,” Robinson said. “All this quarantine stuff, it’s aggravating. I just want to get out and play. I really haven’t thought about the contract stuff. When the time comes, it comes.”
On Media Day last week, Thibodeau said Robinson has “a long way to go’’ and raised Noel’s name as delivering the same skills as Robinson.
On Monday, Thibodeau showed more love for Robinson regarding potential. He’s a sensational rim-runner who still has to work on finding a jump shot and also be in better position on defense and commit less fouls.
“There’s a lot of great instincts that he has,” Thibodeau said. “His ability to protect the rim is elite. Obviously keeping him on the floor, getting him to play with a little more technique, I think he can be even more disruptive. But he has a very big upside defensively.”