In the days since the transaction, fans and media pundits alike have shared their displeasure with the move. Toppin, however, remained upbeat about the transaction.
When asked during his July 9 introductory press conference with the Pacers “how frustrating” the end of his Knicks tenure was, Toppin, who played for the Knicks for three years, refrained from negativity.
“I mean, I’m not going to say it was super frustrating. … Things happen for a reason,” he said. “I’m just super excited living in the moment. Glad to be here in Indy and can’t wait to get started.”
Toppin now heads to a Pacers team to join forces with star guard Tyrese Haliburton, who was tabbed in 2020 as an ideal draft target for the Knicks before they passed on him to select Toppin with the eighth overall pick.
Per SNY’s Ian Begley, Indiana is excited to see what this tandem can now accomplish together.
Obi Toppin Admits to Being Unhappy With Knicks Role
Toppin was unhappy with his role on the Knicks, according to multiple reports. In his introductory press conference he acknowledged some dissatisfaction regarding his tenure in coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation.
“I didn’t get the minutes I wanted,” Toppin said before deflecting to talking about the future. “But now it’s a new start. I’m here in Indy.”
Despite his being viewed as a potential franchise cornerstone, Toppin played only 14.7 minutes game in New York, scoring just 7.0 points and grabbing 3.0 rebounds.
His disapproval of his role reached a boiling point on May 8, after the Knicks’ loss to the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Toppin and Thibodeau got into a locker room verbal altercation, which ultimately was extinguished when players and coaches intervened, according to a June 21 report by The Athletic’s Fred Katz.
Veteran Big Tabbed as Potential Obi Toppin Replacement
With the departure of Toppin, the Knicks now find themselves with a vacancy at the power forward position behind All-Star Julius Randle. Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley predicted the front office would shift its attention toward free agent big JaMychal Green as a potential free agency target to serve as the 25-year-old’s 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.
A steady frontcourt presence who can both defend and space the floor, the nine-year veteran is coming off a 2022-23 campaign where he posted averages of 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds through 57 games with the Golden State Warriors all while shooting a highly efficient 54.0% from the floor and 37.8% from deep on 6.6 attempts per 100 possessions.