After a 13-game absence, third-year big man Obi Toppin is slated to make his return to the lineup for the New York Knicks on January 4 in a home tilt against the San Antonio Spurs, per a report by SNY’s Ian Begley.
After he left the Knicks’ December 7 game against the Atlanta Hawks with an injury, he was given a diagnosis of a non-displaced fracture in his right fibula head. Initially, he was expected to miss two to three weeks.
His recovery took just over a month, and Toppin has finally been cleared to return, but, Begley reported, his role within the rotation will be situational.
“Obi Toppin will be situation for the time being, Tom Thibodeau says. Toppin has been cleared for contact but needs practice time to get back up to speed,” Begley tweeted.
Before his injury, Toppin logged 17.1 minutes per game, averaging 7.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and an assist on 42.1% shooting from the floor and 35.1% shooting from distance.
Obi Toppin Subject of Knicks Trade Talks
During his 13-game absence, Toppin was the subject of one of the club’s most noteworthy recent trade rumors.
In a late December interview with Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney, an Eastern Conference executive who chose to remain anonymous said New York has held talks with the Indiana Pacers regarding a potential trade that would send Toppin to Indiana.
“There has been some talk between the Pacers and Knicks about Obi. He fits in Indiana, especially if they keep [Myles] Turner. Obi is a rim-runner, he has some toughness, he has athleticism. He needs minutes and a team that is rebuilding with young talent like Indy is a really good match,” the exec told Deveney.
Losing Toppin would be a buzzkill for many Knicks fans, but, the exec said, such a move could actually help him reach his full potential.
If dealt to Indiana, Toppin would almost certainly end up in the team’s regular starting rotation, a role where he’s shone throughout his career even if has struggled to get such a role as a Knick. He boasts averages of 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and just shy of a block on 57% shooting from the floor and 43.6% shooting from deep as a starter.
Knicks Exploring Trade for Bulls Star
A move with the Pacers is not the only endeavor the Knicks are seemingly pursuing. HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto reported that the front office is monitoring the situation of the Bulls’ Zach LaVine as the February trade deadline approaches.
“They’ve got their eyes on Zach LaVine,” Scotto said on a December episode of “The Ringer NBA Show” podcast. “They’re monitoring him, they’re looking for the star that’s going to become available, which I think is, of course they’re going to do that.”
Despite LaVine’s stellar per-game averages of 22.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and a steal on 45.8% shooting from the field and 38.0% shooting from distance, the Bulls are 16-21 and in 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings, on the outside looking in at a playoff spot.
Some are under the assumption that if things don’t get better before February 9, the Bulls could simply opt to hit the reset button and shop some of their top-billed talents.