Polarizing Knicks center must be on Grizzlies radar as offseason trade target

Dec 8, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA;  New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) looks on
Dec 8, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) looks on / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Before breaking out onto the scene during these 2024 NBA Playoffs, fans and media pundits alike were viewing New York Knicks big man Isaiah Hartenstein as a quality target for the Memphis Grizzlies to consider pursuing this summer in their efforts to address their vacated center position.

Of course, now with him lighting it up under the postseason's bright lights and serving as a key in the orange and blue's advancement to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, many such as Locked on Grizzlies analyst Joe Mullinax believe that the impending free agent has all but priced himself out of the franchise's spending-range.

Interestingly enough, however, Hartenstein's rise in value could wind up making his frontcourt counterpart, Mitchell Robinson, more of an expendable commodity this coming offseason, especially if the Knicks wish to clear up extra cap space to ensure they can meet the big man's financial demands.

Should this happen, and signs point to the polarizing center being made available on the trade block, the Grizzlies may want to consider fielding offers for his services.

Memphis Grizzlies should monitor Knicks center Mitchell Robinson

While the idea of pursuing a well-documented injury-prone player may not be all that appealing to Grind City's faithful followers, especially after enduring the type of season they just did, the idea of adding someone of his caliber to this center-needy win-now Grizzlies team is undeniably enticing.

Throughout his six-year career in the association, Robinson has established himself as one of the game's premier shot blockers and board gobblers, boasting per 100 averages of 3.8 blocks and 16.0 rebounds, respectively.

On top of this, he's also placed himself up there with beloved former pivot Steven Adams as one of the league's most dependable offensive rebounders, as he sports an offensive rebounding percentage of 18.1 over the last three seasons.

The way many people view a guy like Nets big Nic Claxton as being an optimal fit at the five for the Grizzlies is how Robinson should be seen.

From his tantalizing skill set to his still enviable age of 26, the Knicks center is someone who could be a seamless fit into Memphis rotation both for next season and, with his two more years remaining on his contract, the next several to come.

Of course, as alluded to earlier, Robinson is far from being a sure-fire participant within a team's nightly rotation due to his extensive injury history.

Since being drafted back in 2018, the former five-star recruit has logged 60 or more games in a season just three times (50 percent of his career) and has seen a total of 31 games played in a season twice.

It is because of these health issues that Hartenstein was able to supplant him within the Knicks rotation as their starting five in the first place and is the main reason why he could wind up being an expendable player this summer.

Though there's no real indication at this time of what New York plans to do with Robinson's remaining years under contract beyond 2023-24, already people like Bleacher Report's Greg Swartz are stating that they expect the franchise to place him on the trade block before next season and, in doing so, even believes the Grizzlies could be a potential fit for his specific talents.

With his injury track record, in the event that Memphis is actually open to taking a swing on the high-risk, high-reward talent it's almost certain that they wouldn't be offering up anything too substantial in a potential outbound offer

That said, considering what he would provide to the team when fully healthy, inquiring about his availability this offseason should be seen as a must-do for Zach Kleiman and company.