Trade rumors have been swirling around Obi Toppin for months now, and the New York Knicks finally put an end to them by agreeing to trade the 25-year-old power forward to the Pacers on Saturday. Toppin had already been linked to Indiana, a team that reportedly inquired about a trade for him ahead of the February deadline.
Initially, the Knicks were hoping to get a first-round pick in return for Toppin a few months ago. What the front office actually received in return for him this offseason was two future second-round picks from the Pacers.
Understandably, New York fans are frustrated to see Toppin go for second-round picks, but he didn’t have much value. He leaves the Knicks averaging only 14.7 minutes per game since he was drafted No. 8 overall in 2020. Toppin was eligible to sign an extension this offseason, which wasn’t something that New York likely even considered doing. Rather than watch him leave as a restricted free agent next summer, the Knicks opted to try to get something in return for him now.
Knicks trade Obi Toppin to Pacers for two second-round draft picks
Given the circumstances, it makes sense that the Knicks were able to only get two second-round picks in exchange for Obi Toppin. However, it’s also the Knicks’ doing that he didn’t have more value than that.
Toppin’s rookie season lined up with Julius Randle’s breakout 2020-21 season where he earned All-NBA/All-Star honors for the first time. During Randle’s down year in 2021-22, Toppin averaged the most minutes per game (17.1) in his three seasons with the Knicks, but he was still operating in a limited role. This past season, Toppin averaged 15.7 minutes per game. It goes without saying that wasn’t the expectation that the front office had for Toppin when they used a lottery pick to select him.
It’s impossible to know how Toppin will perform in Indiana, but this is a deal that the Knicks could end up regretting. At the same time, New York put itself in a tough position. This was a trade that had to be made given Toppin’s frustration with his limited role and his looming restricted free agency, but it’s still been tough for Knicks fans to accept.
As much as the majority of fans would like to give New York an F for this trade, I’m going to stick with a C. The Knicks let his value plummet, but this alternative was better than receiving nothing in return for him next summer.