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.