Knicks would stunt Obi Toppin’s growth if Julius Randle stays

Since the end of the 2021-22 season, there hasn’t been a lot said about Julius Randle’s future with the New York Knicks. He ended the year by saying that he wanted to remain in New York, and if he’s on the roster in 2022-23, many fans will be displeased. But what’s a more important topic of conversation is Obi Toppin’s future.

There’s still the possibility that Randle could be traded, regardless of what he’s said publicly. If he has even the slightest inclination to leave the Knicks, he wouldn’t discuss it with the media.

But if he’s still in New York’s starting lineup in October, that’d be bad news for Toppin. If Randle were to be traded, that’d mean that the 2020 No. 8 overall pick should get the chance to start, but it’d depend on the other moves that the Knicks would make after parting ways with Randle.

Toppin was drafted months before Randle had his historic All-NBA and All-Star season in 2020-21. Randle signed a four-year, $117 million extension with New York last offseason, and while it was initially viewed as something that should be celebrated, it’s turned into more of a nightmare.

There’s still the chance that Randle could have a bounce-back year with the Knicks next season, but once again, that wouldn’t be to Toppin’s benefit. Why? Because he’d be watching the majority of it from the sideline.

What will happen to Obi Toppin if the New York Knicks don’t trade Julius Randle?

The idea of Toppin possibly being traded from New York this summer is a sore topic amongst fans. And it makes sense as to why. The 24-year-old has the potential to be a starter in the NBA and the growth that he showed in 2021-22 alone, especially to close out the year when Randle was injured, was quite impressive.

The last time that he played in a game for the Knicks, he dropped a career-high 42 points. That was two nights after he scored 35. Toppin hit six 3-pointers in each game, proving that he’s developed a shot from behind the arc.

With all of that being said, it’s easy to understand why fans want him to remain in the city where he’s from.

But what if he could get guaranteed playing time elsewhere? What if he could be a consistent starter for another team? Would selfishly wanting to keep him in New York be worth putting his on-court development on hold?

This isn’t an argument for why the Knicks should trade Toppin, but it’s clear that after watching them play last year that he could’ve played a larger role. If Randle stays, and his contract would make it difficult to trade him even if that’s he wants, Toppin’s going to be put on the back burner once again.

Tom Thibodeau may work closely with the younger players, but it’s hard to envision a reality where he’d opt for Toppin over a struggling Randle.

And if Toppin is traded to a team where he has success and Randle has another season like he just had, it’s not going to look good on New York. Whatever the front office decides to do in terms of Toppin, they need to prepare for the consequences.

Hopefully, he’ll get to continue to share part of the spotlight with the Knicks, but that will all depend on what happens with Randle.