The state of basketball in New York City isn't the greatest right now. Once deemed as the favorites to come out of the East, the Brooklyn Nets are on the verge of a total rebuild in the aftermath of Kevin Durant's trade request.
In Madison Square Garden, the Knickerbockers are still trying to play catchup after another highly disappointing campaign. This summer, they are angling to improve the team by any means necessary.
On July 1st, the Knicks made their biggest move of the summer (so far): securing young big man Mitchell Robinson to a long-term deal. The signing is actually the first time since 1994 that the New York Knicks have signed a draft pick to a second contract, marking the end of a longstanding drought for the franchise.
Robinson, having arrived as a second-round pick in the 2018 draft, is now the first selected Knick since 1994 to earn a second contract with the team, breaking a 28-year streak of dark draft magic. Back then, the recipient was first-rounder Charlie Ward, who would up playing a decade in New York.
Ward, a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback that made a decision to stick to basketball, is well-regarded in Knicks lore for his deep shooting, leadership, and reliable contributions off the bench. He was a part of the Knicks' most recent run to the Finals in 1999 (holding a starting role that season) and also partook in the prior season's Three-Point Shootout at the All-Star Game festivities held at Madison Square Garden. Ward's New York service ended in 2004 when he was dealt to Phoenix in the deal that brought Stephon Marbury to Manhattan. He played two more seasons between San Antonio and Houston before retiring after the 2004-05 season.
Unfortunately, the Knicks haven't drafted super well since '94. Trevor Ariza, David Lee, Danilo Gallinari, Hardaway Jr., and Kristaps Porzingis are some of the most notable recent draft additions, but none of them panned out and all are long gone from the Knicks franchise.
While Robinson is nowhere close to becoming a star, he is a guy that the Knicks can count on moving forward, which is more than can be said for even some of the game's most elite performers.
Last season, Mitch averaged 8.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game on 76% shooting. The Knicks finished 11th in the East.