“I didn’t get the minutes I wanted. But now it’s a new start. I’m here in Indy,” Toppin said via New York Post’s Zach Braziller in his first interview since the Knicks traded him to the Pacers for a pair of late second-round picks.
Toppin, the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, did not get the opportunity attached to being a lottery selection.
Projected to be the Knicks’ long-term answer at power forward, it never materialized as Julius Randle stunningly blossomed into a two-time All-Star and All-NBA player.
Toppin was limited to just 14.7 minutes off the bench in his first three seasons in the league behind Randle.
“All I can do is just do whatever the coach is asking me to do. Whether that’s being out on the floor, having great energy, doing whatever I need to do to help the team win,” Toppin said.
Randle’s durability only led to Toppin starting in just 15 games across three seasons. But whenever he got that opportunity, the 6-9 Toppin showed out, averaging 20.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
A verbal altercation with coach Tom Thibodeau during a Knicks loss in the playoffs proved to be the last straw for the disgruntled forward. But he chose not to speak about it.
“I’m not going to lie. I ain’t really see anything. I ain’t on social media like that. All I’m really focused on is having the opportunity to come out here, meet the new guys, meet the staff and get this fresh start and win some games,” Toppin said via Newsday’s Steve Popper.
The former Collegiate Player of the Year took the high road and spoke glowingly of his time in New York despite the sporadic playing time.
“I had a great time with the Knicks. Obviously, it’s been a dream to have the opportunity to play at MSG and obviously put that Knicks jersey on. There were great players there, great coaches, and everybody was amazing there,” Toppin said via SNY.
Ex-Warrior Viewed as Obi Toppin’s Potential Replacement
“New York doesn’t need a major-minutes option behind Julius Randle, since—as Toppin could attest—there isn’t much floor time to be found behind the All-NBA forward. JaMychal Green would handle 15-ish minutes per night just fine.
“The 33-year-old is a quick thinker on offense, a capable switcher on defense and, typically, an above-average shooter from distance. If his shooting holds up—he’s hit 37-plus percent from range in four of the past five seasons—he could add a stretch element to this frontcourt’s attack,” Buckley wrote.
Zion Williamson Available?
Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported on Friday night broadcast of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas that the New Orleans Pelicans star could be made available for the “right package.”
“Over the last 3, 4 months talking to league executives around the league, it was made clear that Zion could be made available for the right situation and the right package,” Haynes said. “Not saying he was clearly available, but Zion can be had.”
Williamson has been forever linked to the Knicks since his NBA debut at Madison Square Garden.