Knicks should attempt to keep Obi Toppin out of Donovan Mitchell trade talks

It’s no secret that the New York Knicks and Utah Jazz have spoken about a blockbuster trade involving star player Donovan Mitchell, although the two teams couldn’t find common ground and will likely resume discussions once the season gets closer.

New York has reportedly offered multiple first-round picks and a few young players, but the team’s reportedly been hesitant to involve sophomore Quentin Grimes in any potential package. That hesitancy has likely grown stronger after his breakout Summer League performance.

However, the report also states that the Knicks have been willing to include Obi Toppin in trade discussions.

While Toppin certainly shouldn’t be considered “untouchable” in a trade for a star, team president Leon Rose should be wary to deal the 24-year-old forward as he could be in for a special third season.

Obi Toppin could thrive in an expanded role with the Knicks in 2022-23

Last year, Toppin took huge developmental steps in his game and helped showcase why he was drafted 8th overall back in 2020. He averaged 9.0 points and 3.7 rebounds on 53-31-76 shooting splits in just 17.1 minutes per game.

Towards the end of the season, the former Dayton star really got a chance to spread his wings with Julius Randle playing sporadically. In his final 10 games, Toppin averaged 20.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists on absurd 58-45-80 splits.

His strong second half of the year was even more impressive due to the absence of Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker, meaning that Toppin had to create more shots on his own.

With the addition of Jalen Brunson and playmaking center Isaiah Hartenstein, Toppin’s going to be able to benefit from the attention drawn by his new teammates while also incorporating more self-creation into his offensive game.

Brunson’s 5.0 assists per contest as a starter would have ranked second on the Knicks last year, and it’s also worth mentioning that he averaged 7.2 assists when he wasn’t playing with Luka Doncic.

While the presence of Randle still prevents Obi from being a full-time starter, the Knicks have also reportedly discussed a few trades involving the former Most Improved Player as well.

Even if he stays, Toppin’s role should still expand. It would be shocking to see him average anything under 20 minutes per game next season.

His high-energy, low-usage role is the perfect fit alongside nearly every ball-dominant superstar in the league. The Knicks should be trying to trade for a star to pair alongside Toppin instead of attempting to include him as part of the package.