Knicks Trade Idea Could See Obi Toppin ‘On the Move’

Obi Toppin, New York Knicks

Getty Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks reacts during the fourth quarter of the game against the Miami Heat.

With the 2023 NBA draft rapidly approaching on June 22, it appears the pick-less New York Knicks are looking for a way to partake in the festivities by trading their way into the first round.

Should this be their true desire, Steve Popper of Newsday suggests that the “key” to turning this plan into a reality is to offer up their promising young big Obi Toppin as a headline trade asset.

“If the Knicks want to get into the first round, it is Toppin who could be the player on the move to make it happen. Taken No. 8 overall in the 2020 draft — the first player selected by the front office of Leon Rose and William Wesley — Toppin has never become the impact piece anticipated when the hometown kid was grabbed by the Knicks. Stuck behind Julius Randle, who plays every night and nearly every minute, Toppin’s opportunities were limited and despite occasional flashes, he has no path forward in New York right now,” Popper wrote.

Though there are recent reports that state the power forward has grown frustrated with his role with the Knicks, Popper would continue on by noting that league sources have informed him “Toppin was hoping for a trade at the deadline last season,” though, of course, no such transaction was made.

However, he acknowledged that “now both sides are in alignment that it’s time for a change of scenery for Toppin.”

Pacers Could Be a Realistic Option for Knicks, Obi Toppin

On Tuesday, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News suggested that if the Knicks were to look to move on from Obi Toppin in an attempt to receive a first-round draft pick in 2023, one team that could prove to be a worthwhile partner for his services is the Indiana Pacers.

“A league executive tapped Toppin’s trade value as a late first-rounder. The Pacers, who own the 26th and 29th picks on Thursday, have been speculated as a partner since they were also interested in Toppin before last season’s trade deadline,” Bondy wrote.

This is by no means the first time the Knicks divisional rival has been linked as a viable suitor for Obi Toppin, as an anonymous league executive informed Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney back in December of 2022 that the Pacers had engaged in trade talks regarding an in-season deal involving the forward.

“He fits in Indiana, especially if they keep Turner. Obi is a rim-runner, he has some toughness, he has athleticism. He needs minutes and a team that is rebuilding with young talent like Indy is a really good match,” the exec told Deveney.

Though his career averages of 7.0 points and 3.0 rebounds won’t necessarily blow anyone away, it is his flashes of brilliance when receiving an increased role or a bump in playing time that likely has caught the attention of the Pacers and perhaps any other interested ball club.

Through 15 starts during his three-year career with the Knicks, Obi Toppin finds himself sporting stellar averages of 20.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists while shooting 57.6% from the field and 44.0% from deep.

Knicks Have Third-Best Odds of Landing Zion Williamson

The Knicks may be interested in thrusting themselves into this year’s first round of the NBA Draft, but, even if they were to fail in trying to achieve such a task, they could still find themselves adding on a top-selected talent from just a few years back.

According to, New York currently holds the third-best odds (+750 — 11.8% implied probability) of landing New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson via trade this summer.

Over the last few weeks, rumors have been circulating suggesting that the Pelicans could be open to moving on from their fourth-year franchise cornerstone, with The Ringer’s Bill Simmons stating on his podcast that he’s heard Williamson could be moved as early as this week.

“The Zion thing is a real, real subplot. I had somebody that I trust tell me [Saturday] that he will not be on that [New Orleans Pelicans] team on Thursday. I was like, ‘Really? I haven’t heard that.’ He said, ‘You watch.’ So, there you go on that,” Simmons said.

After signing a lucrative five-year, $194 million extension last summer, Zion Williamson only managed to play in 29 games, though averaged an impressive stat line of 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists on 60.8% shooting from the field and 36.8% shooting from deep.

Should the Knicks opt to trade for him, clearly they’d be banking on his upside when healthy, as he boasts averages of 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 60.5% from the field and 34.3% from deep for his career.

Unfortunately, staying healthy has proven to be a tall ask for the power forward, as he has played in just 114 out of a potential total of 308 regular season games through four years in the association.

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