There are still some New York Knicks fans out there grumbling over the Obi Toppin trade that resulted in the front office adding two second-round picks to their assets. The move fueled additional dislike of Julius Randle all because he’s the starting power forward.
The trade needed to happen, especially because New York wouldn’t extend Toppin. If Indiana doesn’t do so before the season starts, he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer.
Rather than let the Toppin experiment go on, the Knicks ended it. Yes, it was disappointing to see a former lottery pick go for a couple of second-round picks, but let’s be honest. He averaged 14.7 minutes per game in his three seasons in New York, so it’s not as if the Knicks were going to get more than that.
Seeing Toppin in a Pacers jersey will take some time to get used to, but Knicks fans should be happy he was granted a fresh start. He didn’t have a path to be a starter in New York because of Randle, who has been an All-NBA/All-Star player in two of the past three seasons.
Randle isn’t oblivious to what Toppin’s future (or lack thereof) would’ve looked like if he stayed with the Knicks for at least another season. On the first day of training camp, he spoke about the trade that happened at the beginning of July.
Knicks’ Julius Randle says Obi Toppin was “in a tough spot” behind him
It turns out the ‘Julius Randle hates Obi Toppin and vice versa’ narratives were wrong! Shocker. In all seriousness, it shouldn’t be surprising to see Randle speak highly of Toppin. He said he tried to help Toppin “mentally stay in it” when he wasn’t getting consistent minutes playing behind him, which is all Randle could do.
Except for 2021-22, there wasn’t much substance to the argument that Toppin deserved to play over Randle. Indeed, Toppin deserved not to be on a short leash and to have his strengths played to by Tom Thibodeau, but Randle’s always been the better, more consistent player.
Randle said he’s looking forward to seeing Toppin “flourish” in Indiana, an outcome New York fans know is coming. Toppin’s on a young, fast-paced, high-energy squad that should help to guide his career in the right direction. It’ll certainly help that he’ll get to play alongside Tyrese Haliburton.
Like every Knicks fan, Julius Randle wants only the best for Obi Toppin. They spent three years together and will be connected forever because of that.