New York Notes: Toppin, Barrett, Claxton, Bridges, Simmons

Obi Toppin, who started in place of injured Julius Randle on Friday, had a heated exchange with RJ Barrett during the Knicks’ win over the Cavaliers on Friday night. However, the Knicks downplayed the incident afterward, Peter Botte of the New York Post reports.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau and his assistants had to keep Toppin away from Barrett during a third-quarter timeout. Toppin and Barrett hugged on the court shortly afterward.

“We’re brothers. And we’re good. We discussed it,” Toppin said.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • Nic Claxton signed a two-year, $17.25MM contract as a restricted free agent last summer. That contract is proving to be a bargain, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Claxton has started 72 games and leads the Nets in blocks and rebounds. Claxton hopes he remains with the franchise beyond next season. “It’s human nature. It’s just in our business, you never really know what’s going to happen as far as trades, contracts and everything,” Claxton said. “But I’ve been here four years, and Brooklyn has been a huge [time], played a huge role in my growth. And I would love to be here.”
  • Nets forward Mikal Bridges is on track to play 83 regular season games this season,  something that hasn’t been done since Josh Smith played that many games for Houston and Detroit in 2014/15, Nick Friedell of ESPN notes. Nets GM Sean Marks is impressed by Bridges’ durability during a time when players are frequently rested. “You look at how he plays the game,” Marks said. “Obviously, when he was playing in Phoenix, even dating back to college days, the length, the reliability — he’s nearing 400 games played in a row, it’s pretty unique in this day and age. And for somebody who actually wants to play at that clip is also certainly refreshing.”
  • With Ben Simmons declared out for the season by the Nets, Lewis interviewed a number of medical experts and Simmons’ agent to determine whether he’ll be healthier next season (New York Post subscription required). Lewis also explored the question of whether Simmons might require surgery to resolve his back and knee issues.
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