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Nate Robinson Proves He Belongs

Jan 2, 2010 – 9:45 AM
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Tom Ziller

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Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni dropped guard Nate Robinson from his rotation last month, quizzical because Robinson was clearly the team's best scorer, and a player -- while full of confidence and volume -- who doesn't mind coming off the bench. D'Antoni was seen to be punishing Nate for his not-always-completely-serious demeanor, while the coach insisted Robinson made the team worse.

That excuse was always questionable, as I reiterated a few days ago. Friday's performance, in which Robinson exited the doghouse to score, oh, 41 points, including 11 in overtime as the Knicks knocked off the excellent Hawks, only reinforces that. Needless to say, Robinson is going to have to kick D'Antoni's Porsche or something to get knocked back out of the rotation.

While D'Antoni is surely hearing plenty of guffaws this morning as yokels like me wonder why you'd ever bench the best scorer on a bad offensive team, the gambit worked. Nate is back and happy, the Knicks are threatening for a playoff spot thanks (in part) to an easier schedule, and D'Antoni looks a bit like a savant for "fixing" Robinson. (Of course, he really did no such thing. Nate has scored 40+ before, after all. Robinson told the media he was focused on playing under control ... but watch the highlights and tell me that's not the same ol' aggressive Nate.)

New York still won't sign Robinson long-term this summer, so it's in the team's best interest to trade him. (I dare say his value is as high as it will get.) In the mean time, it'd clearly be silly to keep Nate out of the lineup. If the Knicks want to catch that eighth seed, playing the team's best players is vital. The roster isn't deep enough to allow D'Antoni's pride to handicap the team.
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