New Maine Red Claw Thomas Robinson is hoping for another chance in the NBA.
“I’m better at knowing the things I need to do to be great at that level and help teams win,” Robinson told Boston.com in a phone conversation Tuesday evening.
A consensus first-team All-American at Kansas, Robinson was selected fifth overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2012 draft, yet he never found his footing as a pro. The 6-foot-9 power forward bounced around the league, playing for six teams in five years, before heading overseas to continue his career.
After a year with BC Khimki in Russia, Robinson signed with — but was subsequently waived by — the Atlanta Hawks at the start of this season. He then signed with the Beikong Fly Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association, where he consistently posted double-double after double-double. In 26 games, Robinson averaged 21.9 points and 13.6 rebounds.
“Confidence-wise, it helped me a lot,” Robinson said of his season in China. “I’m in good shape and ready to come back and try to keep it rolling.”
Robinson said he used his time away from the NBA to focus on “things [he] felt like [he] was struggling with,” and he believes he is returning as a better passer with a basketball IQ. The 28-year-old is also continuing to refine his defensive game, which he attributes to increased more effort.
Overall, Robinson said he is “more mature” and has gained a better understanding of the game and how his role can fit certain teams.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) March 17, 2019
Now with the Celtics’ G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, Robinson has posted a double-double in his two appearances since being claimed off waivers Sunday. According to Robinson, Maine was his preferred destination because he felt the situation offered the best likelihood of being called up to the NBA.
Robinson said he’s spoken with the Celtics about the possibility of snagging the team’s final roster spot, but “nothing’s concrete.” If Boston were to sign Robinson, he would be reuniting with a close friend, Marcus Morris, who also played college basketball at Kansas. While teaming up with Morris is certainly appealing, Robinson emphasized he values a chance at a comeback more than anything.
“I’m just trying to get back,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where it is. I’d be more than grateful to be back on any roster. Of course, playing with Marcus would mean a lot to me.”
Morris, however, was happy to vouch for his former teammate.
“We definitely could use him on this team,” Morris told Boston.com after Monday’s game against the Denver Nuggets. “I think he’d be perfect, honestly. He’d bring that energy [and] bring more size. He’s a guy that can defend the rim, got a lot of energy, you know, just being a dog. Every team could use a dog.”
Robinson’s laid-back personality isn’t indicative of his nature on the floor, per Morris.
“He’s a lot different than when he gets on the court because he’s hungry and he’s playing very hard and his intensity is always high,” Morris said. “He’s aggressive. He’s a dog, with a lot of energy. A great rebounder [and a] great defender.”
The Red Claws have two games remaining on their schedule and wrap up their season on Saturday. A Brewster Academy alum, Robinson said he plans to stay on the East Coast and will keep working out until the phone, hopefully, rings.
Feels good when you feel progress ! Slow grind !
— Thomas Robinson (@Trobinson0) March 18, 2019
Oh, and as for where he projects Kansas to finish in the NCAA Tournament?
“If I’m being realistic, I’m saying Final Four right now,” he said.