Should the Clippers opt to continue building around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic believes their best course of action is to move their pick “for some more athletic size, and guys who facilitate ball movement on offense with quick processing speed.”
Vecenie suggested a Draft Night trade– a straight swap between the Knicks and the Clippers.
“For instance, I wonder if something along the lines of No. 30 for Obi Toppin could make sense if the New York Knicks are hesitant on paying Toppin long term, as he’s extension-eligible this offseason,” Vecenie said in a draft analysis story with his colleague Law Murray, The Athletic’s Clippers beat reporter.
“Toppin flashes well in inconsistent minutes, but he hasn’t quite put together a full season. Restarting his timeline with a different player on a rookie-scale deal could make sense for the Knicks as they hunt for a star and keep flexibility available in that search,” he added.
Toppin is extension-eligible this summer. But given his minimal role during his first three seasons with the Knicks, Spotrac’s salary cap expert Keith Smith believes Toppin will only get extended if he’s traded.
“Toppin’s career has been spent as a low-minute backup behind Julius Randle. There’s very much still a mystery box quality to his game. He’s flashed when given time, but those flashes aren’t extension-worthy…unless he’s traded ahead of the extension deadline,” Keith wrote.
The Knicks do not have a pick in this year’s draft after trading away the 23rd pick in the Josh Hart trade deadline deal and their second-round pick (53rd pick) during last year’s Draft Night 3-team trade with the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets.
The Knicks brass, including coach Tom Thibodeau, was front and center during the NBA Draft Combine, a hint that they could be looking to trade for or buy a pick. They have also been working out prospects in their Westchester practice facility.
Damian Lillard Picks Heat, Nets Over Knicks
Damian Lillard picked Knicks’ rivals — Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets — over them and Boston Celtics when asked to choose among those four teams as his preferred destination if ever his time in Portland ends.
“Miami, obviously,” Lillard said during an interview with Showtime’s The Last Stand. “Miami is the obvious one, and Bam [Adebayo] is my dog. I think Miami is an obvious one. Brooklyn is another obvious one because Mikal Bridges is my dog too. And both have capable rosters.”
Lillard is still hoping the Portland Trail Blazers will continue to build around him and field a contending team next season. Otherwise, he’s out.
“I think I’ve made it clear what my wishes are,” Lillard said. “I want to have the opportunity to win in Portland, and right now, we’ve got an opportunity asset-wise to build a team that can compete.”
“That would be the No. 1 thing, but if we can’t do that, then obviously, like I’ve said for months now, then it’s a separate conversation that we would have to have.”
Josh Hart Hurt After Damian Lillard Did Not Pick Knicks
Hart was hurt after Lillard, his former teammate, left him out, and the Knicks as his preferred landing spot if he ever asks for a trade out of Portland.
“Damn, I thought I was your dawg too… Dame Lillard,” Hart said, quote tweeting his former Portland Trail Blazers teammate interview with Showtimes’ The Last Stand.
Hart played with Lillard during the second half of last season and the first half of this season before he was shipped to New York.