Five-foot-seven Nate Robinson, the new star of the 2013 NBA playoffs, arrived in Oklahoma City as part of the Kendrick Perkins trade on Feb. 24, 2011.
Robinson played only four games and 30 minutes for the Thunder. In the playoffs, Robinson played three games and 12 minutes. His only meaningful playing time came in Game 1 of the West finals against Dallas, when early in the fourth quarter OKC led 97-83, and Scotty Brooks tried to ignite a rally with Robinson. But Robinson missed three shots, went back to the bench and the Thunder lost 121-112.
Once the lockout was over in November 2011, the Thunder basically had no use for Robinson, and despite a year remaining on his contract, the Thunder and Robinson negotiated a buyout. Robinson’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, told The Oklahoman, “They don’t plan on using him in their rotation, and we wanted to see if we could find a better opportunity somewhere else.”
Robinson signed with the Warriors and played 51 games, starting nine, and averaged 11.2 point a game, which is close to his career scoring average of 11.5.
In July, Robinson signed with the Bulls and played all 82 games, starting 23, and averaged 13.1 points a game as Chicago treads water with the void of Derrick Rose.
Robinson was fabulous in Chicago’s big Game 4 comeback against Brooklyn, with 34 points in a 142-134 triple-overtime win, and was again Monday night, with 27 points in a 93-86 upset of Miami.
So, did the Thunder miss the boat by not retaining Robinson?
No. Robinson is a dynamo at times. He’s also played for five franchises in the past 37 months.
Robinson has massive defensive deficiencies and definitely dominates the ball. On most teams, that’s a huge problem. On this Chicago team, which is dying on the vine for offense, Robinson becomes valuable.
With the Thunder, Robinson was a demonstrative cheerleader and no locker room problem, as far as we know. But he clearly didn’t – and doesn’t – fit the Thunder culture. The Thunder has come a long way fast by sticking to its core principles. Nate Robinson seems a dubious place to start compromising.