Will this lead to a summer breakup?
An anonymous league executive linked the underutilized forward to two teams that could give him a better opportunity than he currently has in New York, playing token minutes behind two-time All-Star Julius Randle.
“There have been teams who want to pluck Obi from there for the last few years,” the Eastern Conference general manager told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney. “Cleveland would have an interest. He makes a lot of sense in Sacramento. But the Knicks give every indication that they want to keep him, at least until he gets that first bigger contract, and they could maybe move him then.”
Toppin is extension-eligible this offseason, but he’s not expected to get an offer considering his limited role. Retaining Josh Hart and extending the quick-rising Immanuel Quickley, the Sixth Man of the Year runner-up and Toppin’s closest friend in the team, are where the Knicks’ focus lies this summer on top of potential trades for a star.
In the days leading to the 2020 NBA Draft, the New York Post reported the Knicks considered trading with the Cavaliers for the 5th pick to secure Toppin, who starred in Ohio with the Dalton Flyers. A deal did not push through, and the Cavaliers eventually passed up on Toppin and took Isaac Okoro.
The Knicks celebrated as Toppin fell on their lap at No.8. But there was nothing to celebrate during Toppin’s first three years with the team as he has yet to materialize his true potential as he was underutilized.
Toppin averaged just 7.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 15.7 minutes, but he teases his potential every time he gets a spot-start when Randle is out.
Since entering the league, Toppin averaged 20.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 44% from deep in 15 games as a starter.
The Kings, on the other hand, are in need of a starting forward, with Harrison Barnes entering unrestricted free agency.
Knicks May Revisit Trade Talks With Pacers Involving Obi Toppin
According to SNY’s Knicks insider Ian Begley, the Knicks and the Indiana Pacers may revisit the earlier trade talks involving Toppin in a possible swap with another former lottery pick, Chris Duarte.
“I know the Knicks and the Pacers, prior to the [trade] deadline, had something in place like a loose framework, and it was Obi, and I think you look at the Pacers roster, you know Chris Duarte, there’s some duplication around him,” Begley said on the May 17 episode of SNY’s The Putback.
“So, I think Indiana thought maybe that could work, and there were obviously pieces, draft picks involved. They couldn’t get a deal done, but maybe they revisit that at some point this off-season if the [Knicks] decide that, ‘hey, we need to free up that spot or we don’t think Obi could fit here long term.’”
Trade Proposal Lands Knicks Deandre Ayton
New York Knicks receive: Deandre Ayton and Landry Shamet
Phoenix Suns receive: Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, and Evan Fournier
“Despite the Knicks’ fourth-place finish in offensive efficiency during the regular season, per NBA.com, they might need some extra oomph. They didn’t have a great counterpunch once leading scorer Julius Randle went cold in the playoffs,” Buckley wrote.
“Center isn’t a glaring need for the Knicks, but they can only squeeze so much out of a rim-runner like Mitchell Robinson. Ayton has a deeper bag on offense, and his soft mid-range touch would open wider attack lanes for Randle, Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett. Ayton is also a solid interior defender and an active rebounder. This swap could even help the Knicks’ shooting woes, as Landry Shamet might soak up minutes Evan Fournier couldn’t find,” Buckley added.