Last July, the New York Knicks made a move that shook the entire fan base. No, it wasn't signing Donte DiVincenzo to a four-year deal, although that was a great move. It was trading Obi Toppin to the Pacers for two second-round picks. It didn't come as a surprise, as it had been rumored Toppin would be traded.
Still, it was tough news for fans to swallow. It didn't help that the Knicks couldn't get more than second-round picks in return, but that was Toppin's value. Even though he was the No. 8 pick in the 2020 draft, he never received consistent rotation minutes behind Julius Randle.
The trade was viewed as an opportunity for Toppin to prove himself, but six months later, things have changed. The Pacers won the Pascal Siakam sweepstakes, and it was rumored that Toppin could be sent to Toronto in the deal, reuniting him with RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley. Instead, Jordan Nwora is a Raptor, but that doesn't mean Toppin won't be moved before the deadline.
The speculation that Toppin will be dealt continued on Monday when Brett Siegel reported the Pacers have made the forward available to be traded.
Former Knicks forward Obi Toppin could be traded before Feb. 8 deadline
Toppin will be a restricted free agent this summer, and it no longer seems he has much of a future in Indiana. If he is traded, he could be an instant contributor elsewhere, as he's averaging 11.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. It's not as if he's gone downhill. Instead, the Pacers are pushing their chips in to contend with their new Haliburton-Siakam star duo.
As much as some Knicks fans wanted the team to keep Toppin, doing so wouldn't have made much sense. Randle is in the midst of what could be another All-Star/All-NBA season. It wouldn't have done Toppin any good to spend a fourth season on the bench behind him. As beloved as Toppin was (and still is) in New York, it's not as if he's destined to be a star.
Rather than lose Toppin in free agency or get even less for him at this year's deadline, New York's front office made the correct decision to trade him last summer. Hopefully, if he is traded again, he'll be able to go to a team where he can showcase his talents (except in games played against the Knicks, of course).