Obi Toppin

New York Notes: Toppin, Weatherspoon, Edwards, DeAndre

Second-year Knicks forward Obi Toppin is hoping to earn a bigger role with New York next season, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.

During his first Summer League, Toppin is averaging 23.0 PPG and 8.2 RPG across 36.5 MPG and has proven to be an adept scorer from everywhere on the court, driving inside for dunks and easy looks around the basket plus converting his three-point attempts at a solid 35.5% clip. The eighth pick in the 2020 draft out of Dayton, Toppin averaged just 11.0 MPG across 62 games in his rookie season.

“I feel like I know my role,’’ Toppin said of how he’ll slot in as the main reserve behind All-Star forward Julius Randle during his second season in the league. “I tried to focus on rebounding and defense mostly. Just improving in that, offensively things will come to me. I feel like defense is the most important thing when playing for coach [Tom Thibodeau] — and playing anywhere.”

There’s more out of the Big Apple:

  • Nets Summer League standout Quinndary Weatherspoon has impressed during his time in Las Vegas this year, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “Yeah, Q’s great,” Summer League coach John Ott said of the 6’3″ shooting guard. “We’ve asked him at times to pick up full court. He’s accepted that, bringing some of the defensive mentality that we were hoping to find in Summer League. He’s definitely shown more than capable to guard on the basketball at this level.” 
  • Rookie Nets forward Kessler Edwards knows how the Nets want him to contribute after signing a two-way deal with Brooklyn, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “(The Nets) told me they just want to see me doing all the little things, along with rebounding the ball, crashing the glass, run the floor, spacing the floor, knocking down open shots and then really just guarding 1-through-5,” Edwards said. “Those 3-pointers and that defensive ability and versatility is what I take pride in. That’s what I like doing the most when I play.” 
  • Veteran Nets center DeAndre Jordan may not start the 2021/22 season with Brooklyn, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The Nets continue to consider possible trade routes for the final two years and $19.7MM left on the 33-year-old big man’s current deal.

Atlantic Notes: Griffin, Sixers, Knicks, Schröder

Despite looking rejuvenated in Brooklyn down the stretch of the 2020/21 season, veteran forward Blake Griffin accepted another minimum-salary contract to return to the Nets, and said on Thursday that the decision was a “no-brainer,” as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays.

“We as a team felt like we obviously didn’t accomplish what we wanted,” Griffin said. “You can say injuries, but every team had injuries. So we feel like there’s definitely unfinished business. There’s something bigger that we want to achieve, and I still want to be a part of that.”

Not all of the Nets’ key free agents returned – Jeff Green left for Denver – but Griffin wasn’t the only player to re-sign a team-friendly deal and make reference to unfinished business after falling short of a championship in 2021. Bruce Brown, who accepted his one-year, $4.7MM qualifying offer from Brooklyn, told GM Sean Marks that he felt “the job wasn’t done.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Rich Hofmann of The Athletic takes a look at the Sixers‘ offseason, observing that the team has mostly taken a “run it back” approach so far, with Andre Drummond and Georges Niang filling the Dwight Howard and Mike Scott roles. Of course, the possibility of a Ben Simmons trade still looms large, but it’s unclear what such a deal might look like if the 76ers don’t get a chance to make a run at Damian Lillard.
  • As Ian Begley of writes, as a result of all the multiyear contract commitments the Knicks made this offseason, the summer of 2022 projects to be the first offseason in a few years that the team won’t have maximum-salary cap space.
  • Knicks forward Obi Toppin, a native New Yorker like Kemba Walker, grew up idolizing the point guard and can’t wait to play alongside him in 2021/22, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “Having Kemba come to the team is amazing,” Toppin said. “Great player. I’ve watched him as long as he’s been playing since he left UConn. Having an opportunity to play with him is going to be amazing.”
  • Dennis Schröder may not be a perfect on-court fit for the Celtics, but he’ll bring an element of speed and an ability to get to the rim that the team’s other point guards don’t have, and it’s hard to argue with the value of a one-year, $5.9MM deal, says Jay King of The Athletic.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Murphy, Oubre, Toppin

Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina looks at the Olympics as a chance to rebuild his reputation after a rough start to his NBA career, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The French guard was considered among the best prospects in the world when he was selected with the eighth pick in the 2017 draft. He was a modest contributor during his first three years, but had his playing time cut in half when new coach Tom Thibodeau took over.

“Not playing is not easy for a player,’’ Ntilikina said in a recent interview with the French publication L’equipe. “I would definitely like to play more. But I train all season long. And because I’m still a young player, I know I have a lot of things of my game that I can improve on in future seasons. This is what I did this season offensively in games with the Knicks as soon as I had playing time, being at my advantage over the opponent’s point guards.’’

With his 23rd birthday looming next week, Ntilikina may be ready for a fresh start. He will hit the open market when free agency begins in August, and the Knicks will have to make a $7MM+ qualifying offer to keep him restricted. Berman notes that would carry an $18MM cap hold.

For now, Ntilikina’s priority is the Olympic Games and trying to win a gold medal for France.

“My approach to the Olympics is a bit the same as the one I had for the World Cup,’’ he said. “I try to bring as much as possible to the team. It’s the Olympics, it’s not just anything, it’s something I watched every four years. Now having the chance to go with the France team is a childhood dream.’’

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • In a separate piece, Berman takes a closer look at Virginia forward Trey Murphy III, who could be in play for the Knicks with the 19th or 21st pick in Thursday’s draft. A source says Murphy had a “solid showing” in his workout for New York last week.
  • Kelly Oubre‘s desire to join a team that plays “hard-nosed defense, scrappy, fast-paced, athletic open-floor offense” may make him a good fit for the Knicks. The Warriors’ free agent forward made the comments in a recent interview with Ian Begley and Chris Williamson of
  • Begley also talked with Obi Toppin about his experiences during his rookie season (video link). Toppin is doing offseason workouts with teammates RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox and Immanuel Quickley.

Knicks Notes: Sexton, Knox, Barrett, Lillard, Oubre

Kevin Knox could be an important trade asset if the Knicks try to get Collin Sexton from the Cavaliers, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Knox hasn’t done much over the past two seasons, but Cleveland general manager Koby Altman was very interested in the forward heading into the 2018 draft, Berman notes. The Cavs opted for Sexton with the eighth pick, and New York took Knox at No. 9.

The Knicks have a couple of connections that could help in negotiations with Cleveland, Berman adds. Chief strategist Brock Aller was a front office executive with the Cavaliers when they drafted Sexton and he remains close with Altman and owner Dan Gilbert. Sexton has the same agent as Knicks rookie forward Obi Toppin, another candidate to be sent to Cleveland in a possible deal. They are both represented by Austin Brown of Creative Artists Agency, the firm that Leon Rose ran before becoming president of the Knicks.

There’s more from New York:

  • Ian Begley of confirms the Knicks’ interest in Sexton, but cites sources who say the Cavs want a useful veteran in return. New York doesn’t have any veterans with a multi-year contract, so a third team might be necessary to get a deal done. Sexton will be eligible for an extension worth up to $168MM over five years, which would cut into the Knicks’ cap room.
  • Begley adds in the same story that teams in contact with the Knicks have gotten the impression that the club has little interest in trading RJ Barrett. A previous report stated that Barrett isn’t untouchable, but would likely only be available in a deal for a superstar.
  • One superstar who could end up being available this offseason is Damian Lillard. While it’s not clear if the Knicks would offer Barrett in a package for the Trail Blazers point guard, Berman says the team figures to be amenable to including at least three first-round picks in an offer. If Lillard does look to leave Portland, he’d likely be intrigued by the Knicks in part because assistant coach Johnny Bryant is one of his mentors from Oakland, Berman adds.
  • If the Knicks are able to trade for a point guard, that frees up their considerable cap room to be used elsewhere, Berman adds in a separate story. One option is Warriors forward Kelly Oubre, who is expected to lose his starting job when Klay Thompson returns. The Spurs and Heat are reportedly also interested in Oubre.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic identifies six free agents he believes the Knicks should consider, including point guards Goran Dragic and Spencer Dinwiddie and sharpshooters Duncan Robinson and Malik Monk.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Knicks Notes: Sexton, Vildoza, Noel

There has been talk that the Knicks are aggressively pursuing a trade with the Cavaliers for high-scoring young guard Collin Sexton. With that in mind, The Athletic’s Kelsey Russo and Mike Vornukov examine what New York might give up for Sexton. The Knicks don’t have available veteran players that the Cavaliers would be interested in, so it’s more likely to be a combination of last year’s lottery selection, Obi Toppin, and a first-round pick.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Luca Vildoza scored nine points in Argentina’s loss to Team USA on Tuesday while guarding some high-level players such as Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine and Damian Lillard. He’s looking forward to doing that on a regular basis, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “Today was a test for me against the best players in the world,” he said. “I felt really good against them, but we lost by 30, and I got to get better. I got work to do.’’ Vildoza signed a four-year pact with the Knicks in May.
  • The team is interested in re-signing free agent Nerlens Noel but they’ll have plenty of competition, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The Kings and Raptors are expected to make a run at the big man. The Mavericks, Nets and Hornets are also potential suitors for Noel, Ian Begley of tweets. Sacramento’s pursuit of Noel hinges on what happens with one of its own free agents, Richaun Holmes, Scotto adds.
  • What are the Knicks’ offseason plans and just how much cap room will it have? Check out our Offseason Preview.

Eastern Notes: Sexton, Knicks, Heat, Hawks, Raptors

Following up on Shams Charania’s report that the Knicks have been the most aggressive trade suitor for Collin Sexton so far, Marc Berman of The New York Post confirms that the team has the Cavaliers guard on its trade radar.

According to Berman, the Knicks would’ve picked Sexton over Kevin Knox in the 2018 draft if he had slipped to No. 9 instead of being selected at No. 8. Berman adds that Knicks forward Obi Toppin, who played his college ball at Dayton, may be a player the Cavs would target in a trade.

A source tells Berman that the Knicks – who hold the 19th and 21st overall picks – are open to trading out of the first round entirely in order to acquire an “established player.” Sexton has certainly established himself as a talented scorer, having averaged 24.5 points per game in 2020/21, though it’s unclear if New York would be willing to offer both of its first-round picks in a package for him.

Here’s more from around the East:

Atlantic Notes: Toppin, Sixers, Knicks, Raptors, Baxter

Knicks forward Obi Toppin had an underwhelming rookie season after being selected with the No. 8 pick in last year’s draft. The former Dayton standout played just 11.0 minutes per game, averaging 4.1 PPG and 2.2 RPG on 49.8% shooting.

However, Toppin is determined to take a major step forward in his second NBA season, and views participating in the pre-Olympics training camp as part of the U.S. Select Team as an important part of that process, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“The message, (the coaches) told me coming here is just be a sponge,” Toppin said on Wednesday from Las Vegas. “There’s great coaches and players out here and just get better and develop my game. I’m working really hard in this offseason to be better for my second season coming up. It’s going be a lot different than the first season.

“I was super excited to have opportunity to come out here work out with these guys,” Toppin added. “It’s the best players in the world on this Olympic team. Having the opportunity to learn under the coaches here and playing with these players, I’m learning a lot and I’m going to translate it into my game for the upcoming season.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Over at The Athletic, Derek Bodner and Rich Hofmann provide an in-depth primer for the Sixers‘ offseason, Mike Vorkunov and John Hollinger preview what’s ahead this summer for the Knicks, and Blake Murphy identifies six guards the Raptors could consider selecting with one of their two second-round picks (Nos. 46 and 47).
  • Speaking of those two Raptors second-rounders, Josh Lewenberg of suggests (via Twitter) that most of the prospects Toronto has worked out so far in the pre-draft process are either candidates for those picks or potential UDFA targets. The lottery prospects who could be in play at No. 4 figure to start coming through next week, per Lewenberg.
  • Morgan State forward Troy Baxter Jr. is drawing interest from a handful of Atlantic clubs. He has already worked out for the Celtics and Nets and is auditioning for the Knicks later this week, he said on Wednesday (Twitter link via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington).

Roster Announced For U.S. Select Team

The roster has been released for the U.S. Select Team, which will help Team USA prepare for the Olympics, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Select Team, which will practice with and scrimmage against the national team during the upcoming training camp in Las Vegas, is made up mostly of first- and second-year NBA players. It will be coached by Erik Spoelstra of the Heat.

Making up the roster are:

Knicks Notes: Toppin, Quickley, Ntilikina, Randle

Obi Toppin has been the Knicks‘ more productive rookie in the playoffs, while Immanuel Quickley is struggling to find his game, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Toppin is coming off a career-best 13-point outburst in Game 4, and there’s talk of playing him and Julius Randle together to help turn the series around.

“I just really feel like I’ve just been locked in, studying a lot of film, paying attention to every little detail possible that I need for each game,” Toppin said. “I feel like the more details I know on the defensive side, I feel like the offensive side will just come to me if I just play my basketball and play team basketball.”

As a lottery pick, Toppin was expected to be a difference maker right away, but Quickley, who was taken at No. 25, had the better regular season, averaging 11.4 points per game and becoming a regular part of the backcourt rotation. His shot has deserted him in the playoffs, as he’s hitting just 29.6% from the field and scoring 4.5 PPG.

“I love it when people count me out,” Quickley said. “I feel like that’s how my whole life in basketball has been, when people say you can’t do something or you’re not good enough or that’s not possible. I feel like that kind of drives our team as well. When we came into this season, everybody was expecting us to be in the lottery.”

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Derrick Rose will likely remain in the starting lineup for Game 5, but coach Tom Thibodeau sidestepped a question about playing Frank Ntilikina, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Ntilikina has only been used for three defensive possessions throughout the entire series. “I think Derrick is proven to be a very good player in this league for a long time,’’ Thibodeau said. “As a team we have to play better. We know that. In terms of Frank, he’s an important part of the team.”
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic examines the adjustments the Hawks have made to slow down Randle, who averaged 37.3 PPG against them in the regular season. Randle, who is in the playoffs for the first time in his career, has been forced to deal with two and sometimes three defenders every time he catches the ball.
  • A fan accused of throwing a beer at the Knicks’ bench during Game 2 has been permanently banned from Madison Square Garden, Berman writes in a separate story.

Knicks Notes: Bullock, Toppin, Quickley, Crowd Size

Reggie Bullock has taken advantage of the chance to prove he can be a long-term fixture with the Knicks, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Bullock arrived at training camp with just a small guarantee on this season’s contract, but he quickly proved his worth to new coach Tom Thibodeau and earned a spot in the starting lineup.

“I felt like I was starting at zero, but I knew what type of coach he was,” Bullock said. “I never played for him, but I knew that he was a hard-nosed type of coach, and I felt like he could be a coach to bring the best out of me, which he is doing. The things that he expects on the offensive and defensive end plays to my skill set. … He has a lot of belief in me, I have a lot of belief in him to prepare our team and myself, second to none in this league.”

Bullock is New York’s best perimeter defender and a dangerous outside shooter, connecting at 41% from beyond the arc this season. He figures to be an offseason priority for the Knicks in free agency and would love to get a long-term deal to stay with the team.

“I found a home,” said Bullock, who has played for five teams in eight seasons. “I’m just happy and excited to have actually found a place where a coach and organization believe in the things that I do on both ends of the floor.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Rookie forward Obi Toppin is likely to see his playing time reduced in the first-round series against Atlanta, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Sources tell Berman that the Hawks expect to see more minutes for Julius Randle and veteran backup Taj Gibson, who may be used at power forward as well as center, and fewer for Toppin.
  • Fellow rookie Immanuel Quickley will continue to play an important role in the playoffs, Berman adds in the same story. Quickley is looking forward to the postseason opportunity after having the NCAA tournament canceled last year. “When you play in postseason on any level, the level of intensity is intensified,” he said. “It’s usually low-scoring and defense. Just watching it all my life, watching the playoffs, it’s always been kind of cool. It’s going to be even more fun to be out there with my teammates.’’
  • After playing without home crowds for most of the season, the Knicks are excited to have 15,000 fans at Madison Square Garden for today’s playoff opener, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “I do think the home crowd is going to help us a lot,” RJ Barrett said. “It was loud when it was 2,000 people in here. 15,000 is going to be crazy.”