Obi Toppin

Atlantic Notes: Siakam, Milton, Niang, Toppin, Harris

Raptors star big man Pascal Siakam, who has been sidelined with a right adductor strain since November 4, was cleared for contact and fully participated in a team practice on Friday, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (via Twitter).

Lewenberg tweets that Siakam feels that he is improving daily, and remains deferential to Toronto’s medical staff when it comes to managing his ailment.

Toronto has upgraded Siakam’s status to questionable ahead of the team’s game against the Cavaliers on Monday night, reports Marc Stein (Twitter link). If Siakam is determined to be not quite ready for Monday’s game, he could return to the floor against the Pelicans on Wednesday, Lewenberg adds.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers reserves Shake Milton and Georges Niang, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents in 2023, have been playing well in the absence of injured Philadelphia stars James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid, writes Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. Neubeck notes that Milton, who hadn’t received much playing time of late, has exhibited an enticing display of scoring, ball-handling, and off-ball defense as a fill-in starter that could earn him more minutes long-term. Neubeck adds that Niang’s reliable three-point shot has opened up the team’s offense when he plays.
  • Knicks backup power forward Obi Toppin is hoping to return to his early-season long-range shooting form, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. “I feel like I’m still taking the right shots, it’s just not falling,” Toppin told Botte following a practice on Saturday. “I’m just in a little lull right now, and I’m gonna break out of that real soon. Have to start hitting shots again, and continue making the right plays. But I know I don’t have to shoot good to play good.” Toppin has shot just 16.7% from deep in his last five games. The 6’9″ big man had made 42.4% of his triples during New York’s first 14 contests.
  • Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris has seen his minutes reduced as his three-point shooting takes a dip, according to Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. Harris has shot just 2-of-16 from the floor across his last three Brooklyn games. “We really shortened the rotation,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said. Only eight Nets players logged for 10 minutes or more in a 128-117 Friday loss to the Pacers. At 12:02, Harris played the fewest minutes among that top eight.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Williams, Hauser, Randle, Toppin

The Sixers are striving to balance their need to win now with their focus on keeping All-NBA center Joel Embiid, currently dealing with an illness, healthy deeper into the season, writes Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.

Embiid most recently tried to play on Friday against the Knicks, but ultimately left the floor about 15 minutes ahead of tip-off. The club lost to New York and fell to 4-6 on the season.

“Watching him in shootaround, I thought he was really struggling,” head coach Doc Rivers said of Embiid. “Showed up, went out on the floor, got shots, and just felt bad… Obviously, we want to win the game, and putting him on the floor would obviously help us. But we got to also think of the long game as well, and so I thought it was the right decision not to play him.” 

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics center Robert Williams III, ruled out for eight-to-12 weeks while he recovers from left knee surgery, is inching closer to a return for Boston, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “It feels great just getting back on the court, to be honest, man,” Williams said. “I need them just like they need me.” Last year for Boston, Williams was looking like a possible Defensive Player of the Year candidate before being waylaid by his knee.
  • Celtics star wing Jaylen Brown applauded the on-court development of sharpshooting reserve forward Sam Hauser, writes Jay King of The Athletic. Hauser has proven himself to be a key floor-spacing option. In lineups where All-Star forward Jayson Tatum is surrounded by reserve shooters Hauser, Malcolm Brogdon and Grant Williams, Boston’s offense has scored 131.9 points per 100 possessions, writes King. “Sam is lights out,” Brown said. “You can’t leave him. We’re looking for him. Once he hit a couple, we’re looking for him, and Sam is always ready. He works hard, and he’s developing a nice role for himself in this league.” Through nine games for Boston so far, Hauser is averaging 6.4 PPG on .571/.548/.500 shooting splits in 13.1 MPG.
  • Though the Knicks‘ attempt to pair power forwards Julius Randle and Obi Toppin in select minutes during a recent loss to the Celtics didn’t work out particularly well, the duo remains optimistic that it can be effective, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. “I think we played good,” Toppin opined. “We’ve just got to come back with a lot more energy and a lot more fight next game.” Randle also spoke positively about the grouping: “I love it. Play fast, spacing on the floor, obviously, on the offensive end. Being able to switch. The biggest thing is with that group is we just have to rebound. I think that’s the one thing, even when he’s not out there, it’s not a 4 and 5. I think we clean up our rebounding and we’ll be fine.”

Knicks Notes: Roster, Robinson, Hartenstein, Toppin, Grimes

The Knicks‘ reluctance to gamble on a big move this summer has left them with an imperfect roster and no star power to lean on, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. New York is off to a 4-5 start, but the wins came against three rebuilding teams and the shorthanded Sixers, while the losses were to probable playoff teams built around All-Stars.

The offseason was defined by an unwillingness to meet Utah’s price for Donovan Mitchell, who was subsequently traded to Cleveland. Coach Tom Thibodeau was a strong advocate for making the Mitchell trade, according to Popper, who hears from an NBA source that the Knicks had bad intel and believed the Cavs weren’t willing to give the Jazz everything they wanted. Knicks executive Brock Aller argued against giving up three unprotected first-round picks for Mitchell, Popper adds.

The Knicks were also in position to outbid Atlanta for Dejounte Murray, Popper contends. He cites recent mistakes such as signing Evan Fournier in 2021 when Thibodeau preferred to keep Reggie Bullock and taking Obi Toppin ahead of Tyrese Haliburton in the 2020 draft.

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Thibodeau described the right knee sprain that center Mitchell Robinson suffered on Friday night as “mild,” per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Robinson will be reevaluated in seven-to-10 days to determine when he can resume playing. The injury increases the value of offseason addition Isaiah Hartenstein, who is expected to be the starting center while Robinson is out. “He’s done everything that we were hopeful of, and we obviously studied him quite a bit,” Thibodeau said of Hartenstein. “The rim protection obviously has been very, very good. Pick-and-roll defense, very good. And then offensively, just to pull people away from the basket, play-make, very good passer. Good in the paint. And so I think as he gets more comfortable, you’ll see more and more from him.”
  • The Knicks are downplaying an argument during the fourth quarter of Friday’s game between Toppin and assistant coach Rick Brunson, Bondy states in the same story. They reportedly resolved their differences, and they have a solid relationship as Brunson trained Toppin while he was preparing for the draft. “Just normal NBA stuff,” Thibodeau said. “Heat of the battle.”
  • Quentin Grimes was held out of tonight’s game because of soreness in his left foot, the same issue that caused him to miss the season’s first six games, Bondy adds.

Mitchell Robinson To Miss At Least One Week With Knee Sprain

Center Mitchell Robinson suffered a sprained right knee in Friday’s game, the Knicks announced (via Twitter). His condition will be reevaluated in seven-to-10 days.

Robinson was injured late in the first half against the Sixers. He limped to the locker room and was declared out for the rest of the game.

Robinson has played in all eight games so far and is averaging 6.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per night. He is coming off a relatively healthy season, appearing in 72 games last year after being limited to 31 in 2020/21.

Isaiah Hartenstein, who started the second half Friday night, should see a larger role while Robinson is sidelined. The Knicks also used power forwards Julius Randle and Obi Toppin together against Philadelphia and may employ more of that small-ball lineup until Robinson returns.

Knicks Notes: Grimes, Fournier, Robinson, Toppin, Randle

Head coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t sound like he was in a rush to make a change to the starting lineup after the Knicks lost their third straight game on Wednesday to the Hawks, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post.

We’ll see how it unfolds,” Thibodeau said, when asked how much of a sample size is needed before considering a change. “So, you wanna make sure that you get a good look at everything.”

However, Fred Katz of The Athletic wrote prior to Friday’s 106-104 victory over Philadelphia that it would likely just be a matter of time before a change was made given Evan Fournier‘s defensive struggles and poor on/off numbers, and that turned out to be the case, with Quentin Grimes inserted as the starting shooting guard. Fournier wasn’t Grimes’ initial replacement either, as Immanuel Quickley was the first player off the bench.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Grimes is still working his way back into game shape after making his regular season debut in garbage time on Wednesday. Thibodeau said he was unlikely to have a big role prior to Friday’s game, Braziller notes in a separate story. “He’s situational right now,” Thibodeau said on Thursday. “But we’ll take a look at it.” Even though he did end up starting, Thibodeau’s statement still held true, as Grimes only played 15 minutes.
  • Starting center Mitchell Robinson left Friday’s game during the first half and was unable to return, with the team announcing (via Twitter) that he was dealing with a sore right knee. It’s unclear at this time how serious his injury might be.
  • One beneficiary of Robinson’s absence was third-year forward Obi Toppin. Thibodeau has been hesitant to use him alongside Julius Randle, preferring a more traditional center with rim protection, but the Sixers were without Joel Embiid and had a small lineup themselves, so Thibodeau used the pairing in the fourth-quarter comeback to great results, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (subscriber link). As Bondy notes, Toppin scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth. “That’s one of the first times [I saw the Toppin-Randle frontcourt],” said point guard Jalen Brunson. “I found it worked.

Knicks Exercise 2023/24 Option On Obi Toppin

The Knicks have picked up their team option on forward Obi Toppin for the 2023/24 season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Toppin’s fourth-year option will pay him a guaranteed salary of $6,803,012.

Toppin, the eighth overall pick in the 2020 draft, hasn’t played a significant role so far for the Knicks, averaging just 11.0 minutes per game in 62 appearances as a rookie and 17.1 MPG in 72 games last season. However, he has been increasingly productive in his limited minutes. He’s averaging 9.3 PPG and 3.7 RPG on 57.1% shooting through three games (16.0 MPG) in 2022/23.

Toppin will earn approximately $5.35MM this season before making $6.8MM in the final year of his rookie contract in 2023/24. He’ll be up for a rookie scale extension during the 2023 offseason and would be eligible for restricted free agency in 2024 if he doesn’t sign a new deal before then.

The Knicks have two more rookie scale option decisions to make besides Toppin’s before next Monday’s deadline, though both seem fairly simple. We can presumably count on the team picking up Immanuel Quickley‘s fourth-year option ($4.17MM) and Quentin Grimes‘ third-year option ($2.39MM) for ’23/24.

New York Notes: Robinson, Toppin, Grimes, Kokoskov, Sharpe

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, newly re-signed to a generous four-year, $60MM contract in free agency this summer, has been everything New York could have hoped for — at least, during his team’s preseason run, per Steve Popper of Newsday. Popper notes that, with Robinson on the hardwood, New York was a plus-64 across the club’s four preseason contests.

“I think all aspects of his game, he’s put a lot of work in,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s gotten better. The rebounding, the shot-blocking, he’s getting more comfortable with the ball. The finishing. The pressure on the rim. That set the tone from the start.”

“One thing about Mitch, he’s really special to work with,” Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson said. “He works hard. He’s a great guy off the court. We got to build a lot of chemistry over the past couple of weeks. I think how we’ve built the chemistry off the court, on the court we’re really in sync. So I look forward to kind of staying in that sync with him. He’s special. I just really enjoy his presence off the court, on the court obviously.”

There’s more out of the City That Never Sleeps:

  • In some encouraging Knicks health news, young reserves Obi Toppin and Quentin Grimes should be available for New York in time for the team’s season opener on Wednesdayagainst the Grizzlies, writes . Toppin, dealing with a turned ankle, and Grimes, rehabbing a sore left foot, were held out of practice today, but head coach Tom Thibodeau remains confident they’ll be healthy in time for the first game that counts. “I think they’ll be fine,” Thibodeau said. “This is part of the program. Obi was more precautionary. It was just [that] he tweaked it.” 
  • New Nets assistant coach Igor Kokoskov has emerged as the team’s point man when it comes to game-planning its offense, according to Net Income of NetsDaily. Brooklyn’s fresh approach on that end of the floor is more open-ended and team-friendly, and is a credit to the input of Kokoskov, per Net Income.
  • 6’11” second-year Nets reserve center Day’Ron Sharpe has been making a case for frontcourt rotation minutes with a prolific preseason, reports Peter Botte of The New York Post. The big man out of North Carolina posted averages of 13.0 PPG and 9.0 RPG, in just 21.5 MPG, during Brooklyn’s final two games of its preseason. “I think he looks physically better,” head coach Steve Nash reflected. “I think I’ve told you before we’ve worked really hard with the young guys … and DayDay took a step.”

Knicks Notes: Reddish, Toppin, Barrett, SG, Barrett

Knicks wing Cam Reddish says he didn’t request a trade this offseason, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter links), who points out that Marc Berman of The New York Post didn’t actually report that Reddish requested a trade, only that the 23-year-old preferred a change of scenery and a chance for a “bigger opportunity.”

That might seem like semantics, but there’s definitely a distinction between formally requesting a trade and what a player’s preference might be. Reddish only appeared in 15 games for the Knicks after they traded for him last season, averaging just 14.3 minutes per contest. When asked if the Knicks have made it clear what he needs to do to receive regular playing time, Reddish admits he isn’t sure.

I’m still figuring that out. That’s actually a really good question,” Reddish said, per Ethan Sears of The New York Post. “I’m still figuring that out, trying to find my role where I fit in. I’m really willing to do whatever it takes to win. Whatever that role is, whatever it may be, that’s fine with me. We’re winning, we all look good.”

Considering his lack of a clear rotation role, Reddish was then asked if he wanted to stay with the Knicks, but gave a non-answer.

I control what I can control,” he said. “So minutes and all that stuff have nothing to do with me. I just come in and do my job. Work as hard as I can every single day. I’m available, I’m healthy. So whatever happens, happens.”

For his part, head coach Tom Thibodeau was noncommittal about Reddish’s role, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv relays.

The players are going to earn what they get. We have good depth (at wing). I can’t tell you right now who’s in the rotation, who’s not in the rotation,” Thibodeau said on Wednesday when asked if he thinks Reddish will be in the rotation this season. “That’ll be earned. And then if someone’s not in the rotation initially, doesn’t mean that they stay there.”

If he doesn’t receive a rookie scale extension before next month’s deadline, Reddish will be a restricted free agent in 2023 if the Knicks issue a qualifying offer.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Third-year forward Obi Toppin spent the offseason working on his jump shot and defense, Sears writes in another article for The New York Post. Toppin says he feels better about his perimeter defense heading into 2022/23. “Guarding guards like Jalen [Brunson], for instance, in pickup games here or guarding guards like Coby White in L.A. … helped me a lot,” Toppin said. “I feel like even if I can’t get down low, I have to find a way to stay in front of them, still contest their shots and make it hard for them to do things. I feel like I worked on that this summer and I’m a lot better now.”
  • Thibodeau didn’t sound enthusiastic about having Toppin and Julius Randle share the frontcourt at times, Begley notes. The Knicks will “take a look” at the pairing during preseason, according to Thibodeau, who says the duo hasn’t been effective in practices over the past two years. As Begley observes, if Toppin and Randle don’t play much together, an increase in Toppin’s minutes will likely have to come at Randle’s expense — Randle has averaged 36.4 minutes per night over the past two seasons.
  • Zach Braziller of The New York Post (members-only link) explores the pros and cons of who should start at shooting guard between Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes. Braziller ultimately concludes that Grimes is the better fit due to his defense and upside, though he understands why Thibodeau values Fournier’s outside shooting and experience. Thibodeau considers Fournier the frontrunner for the job. Both players sat out today’s practice, per Begley (Twitter links). Grimes is considered day-to-day with left foot soreness, while Fournier has soreness after competing at EuroBasket. Neither issue is considered major.
  • RJ Barrett showcased his ability get into the paint last season, but he needs to improve his finishing to take his game to the next level, Katz writes for The Athletic. Out of 44 qualifying players who took five-plus shots at the rim in ’21/22, Barrett ranked last in field goal percentage, Katz notes. According to DunksAndThrees.com, Barrett shot just 52% at the rim last season, which ranked in the ninth percentile of all players.

Atlantic Notes: Grimes, Toppin, Celtics, Warren

Second-year guard Quentin Grimes could replace Evan Fournier in the Knicks‘ starting lineup, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. When New York signed Jalen Brunson this summer, there were concerns that he and Fournier might not provide enough defense as a backcourt combination.

Begley states that starting Grimes as the shooting guard and having Fournier come off the bench was among several scenarios discussed by Knicks management this summer. Another option the team considered is moving RJ Barrett into the backcourt and giving Cam Reddish a chance to start at small forward.

Although Fournier would be an expensive reserve, Begley doesn’t believe New York should try to trade him. Begley notes that the Knicks need all the shooters they can get, which is why they signed Svi Mykhailiuk earlier this week.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Members of the Knicks‘ coaching staff believe Obi Toppin could see an increased role, Begley adds in the same piece. Toppin showed progress during his second NBA season and could become a starter if New York finds a taker for Julius Randle.
  • Despite some speculation to the contrary, Jay King of the Athletic hears that the Celtics don’t plan to reach out to a veteran big man to help replace Robert Williams (Twitter link). Sources tell King that the roster spot that formerly belonged to Bruno Caboclo will likely go to another young center or power forward. Williams will undergo arthroscopic surgery and is projected to miss four to six weeks.
  • Surgeries for both Williams and Danilo Gallinari have been scheduled for Thursday, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens called Williams’ injury “short term.”
  • T.J. Warren could be the Nets‘ leading scorer off the bench if he can overcome the foot problems that have plagued him for the past two seasons, Alex Schiffer of The Athletic writes in an overview of Brooklyn’s roster. Warren averaged 19.8 points per game and shot 40.3% from three-point range during his last healthy season. Schiffer believes the team is strong everywhere but center, and he points to Dwight Howard as a potential low-cost addition who could provide experience in the middle.

Details On Knicks’ Trade Offers For Donovan Mitchell

In the wake of the agreement between the Jazz and Cavaliers on a trade that will send Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland, details are trickling in on what the Knicks – long rumored to be Mitchell’s top suitor – offered for the three-time All-Star.

Not every outlet is entirely in alignment on what the Knicks put on the table for Mitchell, but the various reports paint a pretty clear picture of what it would’ve taken for the Jazz to send the 25-year-old to New York. Here’s what a few key national and local reporters are saying:


Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

According to Wojnarowski, before extending RJ Barrett, the Knicks balked at including Quentin Grimes in a package that already featured Barrett, two unprotected first-round picks, the Bucks’ 2025 first-rounder (top-four protected), two second-round picks, two pick swaps, and a pair of expiring contracts from a third team.

When the Knicks wanted to replace Grimes in that package with Immanuel Quickley, the Jazz insisted on a third unprotected first-round pick, which the Knicks weren’t willing to give up, according to Wojnarowski, who says New York would’ve sent Evan Fournier and a first-round pick to a third team in order to spare Utah from having to take on Fournier’s multiyear contract.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of Wojnarowski’s report is his claim that the Knicks made an offer in early July that would’ve included Barrett, Obi Toppin, Mitchell Robinson (via sign-and-trade), and three unprotected first-round picks. When the Jazz turned down that proposal, Robinson re-signed with New York, which took him out of the mix for any further negotiations between the two teams.

Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports:

Goodwill’s intel is similar to Wojnarowski’s — he hears from sources that the Jazz and Knicks got close to a deal that would’ve included Barrett, Grimes, expiring contracts, two first-round picks, the Bucks’ 2025 pick, a pair of pick swaps, and two second-rounders. However, New York felt that price was too steep and decided to extend Barrett instead.

Marc Berman of The New York Post:

One of the Knicks’ last offers to Utah included two unprotected first-rounders and three conditional picks along with Barrett, according to Berman, who says it’s unclear whether the team was offering three unprotected first-rounders in permutations of the deal that didn’t include Barrett.

Berman suggests (via Twitter) that the Knicks withheld Grimes from all of their offers. That’s a little hard to believe, given how many different versions of deals the two sides discussed, but it sounds like New York wasn’t interested in adding the second-year guard as a sweetener to offers that already included Barrett and significant draft capital.

“(The Knicks) thought they had (Jazz CEO Danny) Ainge and Utah over the barrel,” one league source said to Berman. “They held back on best offers of picks and players and Danny got his three unprotected.”

Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News:

Bondy confirms that the Knicks weren’t willing to give up three unprotected first-round picks along with Barrett.

However, he says the team was open to moving any of its top prospects, including Grimes — again, presumably if they were going to include Grimes in certain iterations of their offer, the Knicks would’ve wanted to remove another asset or two.

Ian Begley of SNY.tv:

According to Begley, the Knicks did make offers for Mitchell that included three unprotected first-round picks, but Barrett wasn’t part of those packages.

Begley also reports that the Knicks offered different combinations of players in their proposals that featured two unprotected first-rounders and the Bucks’ lightly protected 2025 pick — some of those offers included Barrett and some didn’t (while Begley doesn’t confirm this, it sounds as if Grimes was probably put into some offers that didn’t include Barrett).

At one point, Begley writes, the Jazz asked for a package that included Barrett, Evan Fournier, three unprotected first-rounders, additional draft picks, and at least one other young Knick player. New York opted not to meet that price.


It’s worth noting that the Knicks themselves are likely to be one of the primary sources leaking these after-the-fact details. The Jazz wouldn’t have much incentive to leak packages that they could’ve had instead of Cleveland’s, whereas the Knicks may be hoping to convey the impression they made a strong play for Mitchell and made fair proposals.

With that in mind, it’s worth taking these reports with a grain of salt — it’s possible a key detail or two is being omitted. Still, there’s a pretty consistent message that the Knicks were, at the very least, willing to trade Barrett, two unprotected first-round picks, and some additional draft compensation for Mitchell.

It will be fascinating to follow the trajectories of Barrett and new Jazz players like Collin Sexton and Ochai Agbaji in the coming years to assess whether Utah made the right call by passing on the Knicks’ offers and pulling the trigger on the Cavs’ deal.