Offseason Report Card: Knicks get two As and three Bs for summer moves

Obi Toppin (1Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Obi Toppin (1Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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New York Knicks, Obi Toppin
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 26: Obi Toppin #1 of the New York Knicks celebrates his basket int he first half against the Charlotte Hornets at Madison Square Garden on October 26, 2022 in New York City. The New York Knicks defeated the Charlotte Hornets 134-131 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

5. Traded Obi Toppin

Traded Obi Toppin to the Indiana Pacers for two second-round picks

The New York Knicks have had a roster crunch for a couple of seasons now under head coach Tom Thibodeau. One of their best players is Julius Randle; whether you think he is overrated or not, he’s a worthy starter and has made two All-NBA teams in the past three seasons.

On a Tom Thibodeau team, however, a traditional center and rim protector is a must. That means Randle has to play exclusively at the 4. That doesn’t leave a lot of minutes for a backup power forward, and accordingly, Obi Toppin has been squeezed for playing time since entering the league.

When Toppin got the chance he excelled, making him a fan favorite and raising questions of whether the Knicks could trade Randle and promote Toppin into the starting lineup. Instead, the Knicks decided they weren’t going to find a larger role for Toppin nor did they want to pay him next summer, trading him to the Indiana Pacers for a pair of future second-round picks.

As a pure asset play, this wasn’t the best move. Toppin has real juice as an above-the-rim athlete with a deep offensive arsenal and enough defense to survive. Toppin should be worth more than a pair of distant seconds. The problem was that his value was never going to increase playing paltry minutes behind Randle; the Knicks sort of “sold high” even for as little as they got back.

It also shows the Knicks are willing to do their players a solid, a nice reputation until the team has to break it. He should excel in Indiana and looks in line to start at the 4 beside Myles Turner, the perfect center to pair with Toppin. It may hurt to see him destroying rims and putting up big minutes racing along with Tyrese Haliburton in Indiana.

Grade: B-