The New York Knicks are fighting for a playoff spot in the competitive Eastern Conference, and to get out of the play-in tournament discussion, a trade could be needed. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Knicks have had discussions with the Utah Jazz regarding a trade that would see former lottery pick Obi Toppin shipped west.
MacMahon reports the two sides have discussed a deal that would see Evan Fournier and Toppin go to the Jazz in exchange for Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt.
“The Jazz discussing a deal that would send Beasley and Vanderbilt to the New York Knicks – where Gersson Rosas, the former Minnesota Timberwolves GM who traded for them and gave them their current contracts handles most of the trade calls – for guard Evan Fournier (whose contract New York wants to shed), promising young forward Obi Toppin and draft compensation,” he wrote.
It’s no secret the Knicks want to move Fournier, despite his heroics in the win over the Philadelphia 76ers where the barely-used sharpshooter chipped in with 17 points in RJ Barrett’s absence. He’s currently in the second year of a four-year, $73 million deal. As for Toppin, he doesn’t have a defined role with the team as Julius Randle has reemerged as an All-Star, essentially blocking Toppin’s path to a starting role.
Has Time Run Out for Toppin?
Toppin is somebody who has always boasted a lot of talent and athleticism, but he hasn’t gotten the chance to showcase that for the Knicks like he would for another team. Obviously, Randle is a big part of that and that could be what leads to him being traded.
Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley predicts Toppin will be “aggressively shopped” at the deadline, and he should find all sorts of interested suitors if that’s the case.
“Toppin turns 25 in March,” he wrote February 7. “This might be his third NBA season, but the clock is already ticking for him to take flight. If that’s not going to happen in New York, the Knicks need to trade him to a place where there is hope that it might.”
Randle has been named to his second All-Star team as a member of the Knicks, so it looks like he’s firmly entrenched as the team’s starter there, and with Mitchell Robinson signed to a long-term deal at center, Toppin’s ceiling with the team looks to be a sixth man.
Beasley and Vanderbilt Would Be Big Pickups
If the Knicks were somehow able to turn Fournier and Toppin into Beasley and Vanderbilt, it’s tough to envision a scenario where that isn’t huge for the Knicks. It gives the Jazz a younger player to develop while it gives the Knicks the chance to compete for a playoff spot and avoid the play-in tournament.
Beasley came over to the Jazz in the Rudy Gobert trade, so the Jazz don’t necessarily have any attachment to him and he could subsequently be shipped. On the season, he’s averaging 13.4 PPG. Vanderbilt is a very interesting name as his defense would instantly make him a fan favorite in New York, and he would have a chance to thrive in Tom Thibodeau’s system.
Like Beasley, Vanderbilt came over in the Gobert trade and the Jazz appear to be willing to ship him for assets that fit their rebuilt. The Athletic’s Tony Jones reports the market is “robust” for both Beasley and Vanderbilt, so the Knicks have their work cut out for them if they want to acquire the pair.