Knicks Notes: Toppin, Point Guards, Jokubaitis, Barrett

With Julius Randle out for a second consecutive game on Wednesday in Charlotte due to a quad injury, forward Obi Toppin got another start for the Knicks and enjoyed perhaps his best game of the season. Toppin put up 18 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists on 8-of-11 shooting in 40 minutes, helping to lead the club to a 15-point win over the Hornets.

Toppin has made some strides in his second NBA season, but the former lottery pick has still had a fairly limited role, averaging 15.3 MPG in 63 games. However, head coach Tom Thibodeau liked what he saw from the 24-year-old on Wednesday.

“He made a number of good plays,” Thibodeau said, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “Running the floor, moving it side to side. Shot when he was open, drove it, made the extra pass. He had a great floor game and I think that helped us a ton.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Examining the Knicks’ options to address the point guard spot this offseason, Marc Berman of The New York Post makes a case for Tyus Jones as a potential target and suggests that a sign-and-trade deal with the Mavericks involving Jalen Brunson and Mitchell Robinson “isn’t far-fetched.”
  • Berman also reports that a couple members of the Knicks’ front office flew to Europe in February to visit with Rokas Jokubaitis, a draft-and-stash Lithuanian point guard who was selected 34th overall in the 2021 draft. The Knicks control Jokubaitis’ NBA rights and could explore bringing him stateside for the 2022/23 season.
  • In a separate story for The New York Post, Berman explains why the Knicks giving RJ Barrett a maximum-salary rookie scale extension this offseason shouldn’t be a lock, observing that the forward’s scoring efficiency has dipped this season. “A max extension is a tough call because physically he is gifted and has the capability of being extremely good on the defensive end,” one NBA coach said of Barrett. “The two things that matter most now is who is he playing with and his attitude towards making the right play. But if your volume shooter isn’t efficient, it doesn’t bode well for the team as a whole.”
  • Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post contends that there are no quick fixes for the Knicks and suggests the team still faces a “profound rebuild” in order to become a contender.
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