Knicks center Mitchell Robinson reaches for a loose ball in...

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson reaches for a loose ball in front of Lakers forward Anthony Davis during the second half of an NBA game Sunday in Los Angeles. Credit: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

GREENBURGH, NY — After the Knicks concluded their four-game West Coast trip with a 123-107 victory over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, Mitchell Robinson was in a happy mood. He was one of the last players to leave the locker room, joking about his car with teammates, but adding to the reporters in the room that he was heading to Instagram Live.

While he may have checked that account, it was on Snapchat that Robinson delivered an eye-opening message, writing, and shortly afterward deleting — “Tired of just being out there for cardio fam, like I want to play basketball to [sic] really just wasting my time and energy.”

He then posted essentially, an apology on a fan message board, but was not made available to reporters Friday in the Knicks' first media availability since the post Tuesday night.

He wrote an Instagram response on KnicksFanTV’s account Friday, explaining, “… been going through the perfect storm as I call it. After the game against Portland I just snapped … I got a baby on the way. I got family issues. I just got to figure a way to get back under control when my mind was free. … I’ll figure it out tho. I’ll be fine. My bad, should’ve handled it differently and didn’t want no bad blood. Just gotta find myself.”

Robinson’s frustration came after he attempted just two shots in 21 minutes against Portland, which is not unusual for a player who has earned his minutes and contract by being a defensive force and crashing the boards.

While he wasn’t talking, his teammates and coach Tom Thibodeau insisted there was no concern.

“I’ve got to be the guy who sets the table for everybody,” Jalen Brunson said of getting Robinson involved. “And I’ve got to do a great job of kind of being able to get myself going but at the same time get my teammates going. But it’s the NBA. Guys are gonna be frustrated night in and night out, but it’s all about how we handle it internally and where we go from there.

“You say something [to Robinson], but at the same time, you don’t repeatedly knock on that door. You say something; you move on; you get better. That’s just how it is. Mitch has reacted great to that.”

“I think everyone is human,” said Isaiah Hartenstein — Robinson’s backup, who took just one shot in 26 minutes Tuesday. “You get frustrated at times. If you look at the season, we wouldn’t be where we are without him. And I think the stuff he’s been doing has been great.”

Thibodeau has preached a constant message throughout the season: Sacrifice is a part of what a team requires, whether it is from a reduced role or as some veterans have experienced, not playing at all.

Robinson, who averages only 4.8 field goal attempts per game, had a productive four-game stretch when he returned from a fractured right thumb on Feb. 24, but has struggled lately. His plus/minus is on the negative side in each of the last seven games.

“He’s been fine,” Thibodeau said. “There’s going to be some frustrations over the course of a season. He’s played very well. Just concentrate. Sometimes frustration can creep in. You’ve got to fix it. Then move forward. That’s it… 

Look, no one’s playing great for 82 games. You have to be able to deal with that. If you’re not playing great find something that you’re doing well, help the team win. He’s done that. Look, he’s very much appreciated by all of his coaches, his teammates, because he does a lot of dirty work that impacts the team. It’s critical for us to win. Be a great teammate. That’s part of it. Come in, continue to play to your strengths. Roles are different for everyone, but embrace your role, star in your role. I think it’s one of the things that he does well."

Notes & quotes: Brunson, who has sat out five of the last six games with what the team called a sore left foot, but he admitted was a bone bruise, is listed as questionable for Saturday afternoon's matchup against Denver. Barring a setback, he is expected to play. “Feeling a lot better,” he said. “It’s been a work in progress, but I definitely feel a lot better and progressing in the right direction… Had X-rays and it was clean. It was just kind of a bone bruise or whatever it is. But yeah, I’m feeling better and hopefully it stays that way.”


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