NBA Exec Sheds Light on Knicks Bench Players

Obi Toppin, New York Knicks

Getty Obi Toppin #1 and Immanuel Quickley #5 of the New York Knicks.

The New York Knicks have a predicament in terms of their roster construction. The franchise has a plethora of talented players who are early in their careers.

The issue is the majority of those players are on the bench used as role players, such as Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin.

Besides RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and recently Cam Reddish, who started eight consecutive games before being out in a game against the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 20 due to a groin injury, the Knicks starting lineup has Julius Randle, who’s in his ninth season, and Jalen Brunson, who signed with the Knicks during free agency to be the franchise point guard.

Quickley and Toppin were the first draft selections made under the tenure of Leon Rose as president of the organization during the 2020 NBA draft. Quickley and Toppin have served roles coming off the bench for three seasons.

The chemistry is strong between them on the court and off the court. Quickley and Toppin are fan favorites and provide energy off the bench, but the talent level and ceiling of both players are more than being bench players, which is why the Knicks will have to make a decision on both players, who will be eligible for rookie extensions after this season has concluded.

It’s worth mentioning that both players could feel like they can flourish on another team and reach their full potential with more minutes and possibly a starting spot. With Barrett, Randle, and Brunson each earning over $100 million, everyone can’t get paid unless certain moves are made.

Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports spoke to an Eastern Conference executive about the likelihood of the Knicks trading Quickley or Toppin at the deadline.

Will the Knicks Trade Quickley?

Primarily used as a combo guard, Quickley has been a key player off the bench for the past three years and earned head coach Tom Thibodeau’s trust early. That resulted in Quickley usually being the first guard off the bench alongside Derrick Rose.

It was recently reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic that the Knicks were open to trading Quickley and Rose. Quickley has said in the past that he believes he’s a point guard and can provide both scoring and playmaking. With other teams looking for dynamic guards at the trade deadline, Quickley can be a highly sought-after player.

When Deveney talked to the Eastern Conference executive about the possibility of the Knicks trading Quickley, the executive wouldn’t be  surprised if he’s moved. “Quickley could. If they make a deal, I would not be surprised if Quickley is included,” said the executive in his conversation with Deveney.

Quickley is averaging 8.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.3 steals. While there is a decrease in scoring production compared to his first two seasons, he has increased his rebounding and is one of the better defenders on the team.

The shooting percentages continue to be a struggle for Quickley, as he’s shooting 35 percent from the field and 27 percent from three-point range. With a larger role, the executive believes that Quickley can do better for another team.

“A lot of teams like him. It might be best for him because he is not developing there, he would do a lot better playing for someone else, playing with more of an emphasis on him getting better. It is not happening much there. Is he any better now in Year 3 than he was when he was a rookie?”

Will the Knicks Trade Toppin?

When mentioning Toppin, the executive is leaning toward the front office of not trading the high-flying power forward due to some factors.

“Obi is probably a different story. He was the first pick this front office made, and they passed up on a lot of good players to take him,” the executive said. “He is a CAA guy, too. They will at least play out this year and probably next, probably let him go to restricted free agency but will they trade him? Hard to see that.”

Toppin is averaging 8.7 points on 44 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent from three-point range. Toppin has been one of the bright spots for the Knicks this season due to his improved shooting from the perimeter and is one’s of the best shooters on the team this season.

The fanbase has been disappointed that Toppin isn’t getting a significant amount of playing time, especially with his improved jump shot. Now playing under Thibodeau for three seasons, Toppin still can’t crack 20 minutes in a game as he’s behind Julius Randle.

Toppin has shown flashes of his full potential, especially during the final games of last season when he started. The Knicks organization will have to make a decision. Toppin was the first pick made under the new regime but hasn’t gotten a chance to show his full potential.

Monitoring how the organization values Toppin will dictate the direction of where the franchise wants to go.




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