Obi Toppin

Knicks Notes: Quickley, Fournier, L. Rose, Toppin, Randle

The Knicks have spent years searching for a reliable point guard, but their offseason plans may change if they decide Immanuel Quickley can handle the job, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Quickley posted two triple-doubles in his last three games and improved his play-making as the season wore on. He also overcame an early-season shooting slump and connected at 39.4% on three-pointers over his last 29 games.

“I just control what I can control, man, and that’s working hard, getting better every day,’’ Quickley said after Sunday’s season finale. “If that’s starting, that’s coming off the bench, it is what it is.’’

The Knicks will certainly explore the market for a point guard this summer if they’re not ready to make Quickley the full-time starter. The position was a major disappointment this season with Kemba Walker playing through injuries before leaving the team in February and Derrick Rose never returning after undergoing ankle surgery in December.

New York reportedly has interest in impending free agent Jalen Brunson, but a source tells Berman that the Mavericks will make a strong effort to keep him, especially if they put together a long playoff run.

There’s more from New York:

  • Evan Fournier set a franchise record for most three-pointers in a season, but his first year in New York didn’t turn out the way he hoped, Berman states in a separate story. Fournier was signed in free agency to provide much-needed long-distance shooting for a contending team, but the Knicks unraveled in too many other areas. Berman suggests the front office may explore trade options involving Fournier this summer, but he prefers to return next season and hopes the core of the team will be kept intact. “I’ve said we had the right pieces and we have everything to be successful and I believe that,” Fournier said. “We have to find ourselves. So, when you go through a whole season with guys and coaching staff, you get attached to them and you want to have success with them. You go through tough moments, so I’m not hoping anything changes, to be honest.”
  • Two talented draft classes and a parcel of future assets are the best things Leon Rose has to show since taking over as team president, Berman adds in another piece. The Knicks currently have nine players age 24 or younger, and they own 13 picks in the next three drafts.
  • Steve Popper of Newsday examines whether the late-season surge by Obi Toppin will make Julius Randle expendable. Randle is coming off a down season and feuded with both fans and the media, but Popper cautions that the Knicks would be selling low if they move him this offseason, especially with his four-year, $106MM extension about to kick in.

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Randle, Robinson, Fournier

In a rare media appearance, Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose spoke to MSG Network’s Mike Breen over the weekend about the state of the franchise, head coach Tom Thibodeau, and forward Julius Randle, among other topics. Rose acknowledged it was a “disappointing” season in New York, but expressed confidence that the team’s long-term plan is on track.

“Absolutely. We have to stick to the plan,” he said, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “We have to build one block at a time, be patient. We feel like we’re set up, you know, really well as far as like, we’ve got 13 draft picks over the next three drafts, four first-round picks. With regard to opportunities that may come along, we’re very flexible. We want to show patience, we want to show prudence in making those decisions and continuing to develop what we have.”

Rose said the Knicks fell short of their goal of being a playoff team, but added that he saw some positive signs from the club during the season’s home stretch. Following a seven-game losing streak that began in February and ended in March, New York went 12-7 the rest of the way and got solid production from a handful of young players.

Jericho (Sims) going against starting centers, the 58th pick in the draft,” Rose said, according to Ian Begley of Obi (Toppin), the last week or so has just taken it to another level, scoring a career-high the last game. Quentin (Grimes), who had already established himself in the rotation. (Miles McBride) getting minutes and doing a good job with it. (Immanuel Quickley) playing point guard and showing some signs.

“And RJ (Barrett) is only 21 years old. We have nine players on our team who are 24 years old or younger and Julius is only 27, so … we look at that like development is key. And just in this part of the season, we’ve seen some good development and just need to work and continue on and build on that.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Rose said that Randle “loves it here in New York (and) wants to be in New York,” according to Begley. The Knicks’ president also praised the job Thibodeau did in a challenging season. “I mean, again, he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA,” Rose said, per Popper. “So obviously none of us are happy with the results this year. But he’s a guy who prepares our team better than anybody. I feel that he’s done a good job under the circumstances.”
  • According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Rose was “dead-set” against letting Thibodeau go during the season when at least two members of the front office recommended making a coaching change. Berman also hears from a source that some Knicks executives and players didn’t love the fact that the coaching staff didn’t hold Randle more accountable for his “miscues” throughout the season.
  • Randle and Toppin have talked about the possibility of playing together in small-ball lineups next season, as Peter Botte of The New York Post relays. “There are so many different things we can do when we’re both on the court,” Toppin said. “But we’ve definitely talked about it and hopefully we’re both back here next year and we can see that. I feel like we can definitely do some damage in the league if we’re on the court together.”
  • Although he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, Mitchell Robinson remains eligible to sign an extension with the Knicks up until June 30 and Rose hasn’t ruled out that possibility, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. “With Mitchell, there has been ongoing discussions throughout the year with his agent,” Rose told Breen. “And those discussions will continue, will continue for the remainder of the time until free agency.” The Knicks are limited to offering Robinson about $55.6MM over four years on an extension — they could go higher in free agency.
  • Knicks swingman Evan Fournier intends to represent France in this September’s EuroBasket tournament, tweets Katz.

Knicks Notes: Durant, Irving, Barrett, Quickley, Toppin, Draft

The decision by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to join the Nets instead of the Knicks as free agents in 2019 set the two franchises in opposite directions, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The difference in star power was evident Wednesday night as New York built up a big lead before Brooklyn seized control in the fourth quarter for a 12-point win.

“That helps,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thobdeau said about having two superstars after Durant posted a triple-double and Irving scored 24 points. “But I love our young guys. I love what they’re doing and they’re getting better and better. Hey look, those guys over there were once young guys, too. It’s part of this league. Trial and error. Kyrie, Kevin, throw in Patty (Mills) and (Seth) Curry, you get that through experience. The more we go through it, the better we’ll get at it.’’

The Nets are headed for the play-in tournament and appear to be in good position to claim a spot in the playoffs. The Knicks, meanwhile, are wrapping up a disappointing season at 35-45 and are moving into what Berman considers a “make-or-break offseason” for team president Leon Rose. Fans are hoping for a franchise-altering move, possibly involving Donovan Mitchell or Zion Williamson, two clients of Rose’s former CAA agency. Unless something major happens, Berman suggests that owner James Dolan may reconsider his decision to put Rose in charge of the team two years ago.

There’s more from New York:

  • Irving told reporters after Wednesday’s game that the Knicks were in a strong position to sign himself and Durant in 2019, but the two stars opted to make an imprint on the Nets (video link from “They had a good chance of getting us back in free agency,” Irving said, “but we just felt like we wanted to build here and just make our mark on this franchise.”
  • RJ Barrett has improved his chances for a rookie scale extension, says Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The Knicks will have to decide this summer whether to give Barrett the offer, which would be worth a projected $181MM over five years. No matter what happens, Barrett is hoping for a long-term future with the team. “I’ve said it since day one that I wanted to come here. I didn’t work out for any other team (in the draft),” Barrett said. “This is where I wanna be. I love playing for the Knicks. I love playing in the Garden. I love how we got to the playoffs last year and looking to do that again. I love everything about being a Knick. Yeah, 100% the place I wanna be.”
  • Strong late-season performances by Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin may be changing the Knicks’ offseason plans, according to Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. With several veterans sidelined for the rest of the season, Quickley is showing signs that he can handle point guard duties, while Toppin has excelled without Julius Randle on the court, Sanchez notes.
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic examines the Knicks’ draft options under five different lottery simulations.

Atlantic Notes: Rivers, Embiid, Toppin, Durant, Brown

Speaking to reporters this weekend, Sixers coach Doc Rivers made a case for Joel Embiid to win the Most Valuable Player award, as Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays. Embiid is currently in the midst of his best season, averaging 30.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

“Listen, I don’t get on this, but I really believe he should be the MVP,” Rivers said.

In addition to his impressive averages, Embiid has led Philadelphia to a 47-30 record. He’ll face stiff competition for the award this year, which will include Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Memphis’ Ja Morant, Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic:

  • The Knicks have been eliminated from playoff contention, but second-year forward Obi Toppin is showing he still cares about the games, Neil Best of Newsday writes. Toppin most recently finished with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists in a loss to the Cavaliers on Saturday, showing potential at 24 years old.
  • The Nets dropped a 122-115 game to the Hawks on Saturday despite receiving a superstar performance from Kevin Durant, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Durant finished with a career-high 55 points on 19-of-28 shooting from the floor (68%), but it clearly wasn’t enough. Brooklyn forced just six Atlanta turnovers and allowed over 115 points for a fourth straight game.
  • Now that the Celtics have won 49 games, forward Jaylen Brown is halfway to meeting the criteria for a $482K bonus, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Brown will receive the bonus if Boston makes the second round of the playoffs. The incentive was deemed unlikely at the start of the season, Marks notes.

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.

Poll: Who Will Win The 2022 Slam Dunk Contest?

The 2022 Slam Dunk Contest takes place Saturday night and features four participants (betting odds courtesy of

Rockets rookie Green, the second pick of the 2021 draft, is the favorite, followed by last year’s runner-up, second-year Knicks forward Toppin. Second-year guard Anthony of the Magic is third, and Toscano-Anderson, a third-year reserve forward for the Warriors, brings up the rear. Green, Anthony and Toscano-Anderson are all first-time participants.

Anthony and Green played in the Rising Stars event Friday night, losing a 50-49 nail-biter for Team Worthy against Team Isiah. Anthony flushed an impressive lob dunk off the backboard from teammate Jalen Suggs during the game.

ESPN recently released a video with a short sampling of some of the contestants’ in-game dunks this season. My personal favorite was Toscano-Anderson’s epic poster over JaVale McGee, but all four have certainly had some impressive jams.

If you think shorter players have a stylistic edge given they have to jump that much higher, Anthony is the shortest participant at 6’2″, followed by Green (6’4″), JTA (6’6″) and Toppin (6’9″).

What do you think? Who will win this year’s Slam Dunk Contest? Will the electric rookie favorite come out on top? Will the underdog Toscano-Anderson pull off the upset?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Knicks Notes: Toppin, Quickley, Thibs, Barrett, Randle

Talented second-year Knicks players Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley are striving to grow through their limited minutes allocations, writes Greg Joyce of the New York Post.

“It’s continual, doesn’t end,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of the young Knicks’ development. “You look at the season in totality, so at the end of the year, that’s when you make a judgment on how the season went… They’re making progress, [but] there’s still a long way to go.”

In 15.1 MPG, Toppin is averaging 7.3 PPG and 3.6 RPG on .510/.233/.744 shooting splits. Across 21.3 MPG, Quickley is averaging 9.2 PPG, 3.0 APG and 2.2 RPG.

There’s more out of the Mecca:

  • Quickley is grappling with a shooting slump that could be impacting his rotation minutes. Steve Popper of Newsday notes that Quickley averaged 38.9% on 4.7 three-point attempts per game as a rookie. This season, his shooting has slipped to 32.2% on 4.8 triples a night. “He’s a diligent worker,” Tom Thibodeau observed. “He’s in morning, noon and night shooting. Just got to stay with it, keep continuing to groove your shot, it’ll come back around. It’s part of it.”
  • After Knicks wing RJ Barrett suffered an ankle sprain during the end of a 132-115 blowout loss to the Nuggets last week, head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s decision to leave him on the court late is being questioned, notes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “You don’t work backwards,” Thibodeau said. “There’s different points. You look at the score and the time. And if you make a run, then you take a shot at it. So that’s what we did.”
  • As Knicks power forward Julius Randle improves his on-court performance for New York, he is also helping build up his trade value, per Ian O’Connor of the New York Post. The 25-33 Knicks may see their play-in chances fade away this year, but at least the 27-year-old Randle, who averaged 29.2 PPG, 12.8 RPG and 6.2 APG during the club’s recent 1-4 road trip, is reminding prospective trade partners of his abilities as a player.

NBA Announces Slam Dunk, Three-Point, Skills Challenge Contestants

The NBA has announced a full list of the participants for its three-point, slam dunk and skills challenge competitions ahead of the upcoming 2022 All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.

Per the NBA (Twitter link), the following players will partake in the Mountain Dew Three-Point Contest, which appears to have outpaced the dunk contest as the premiere event for established stars at All-Star Weekend. Four 2022 All-Stars will compete:

According to the league (via Twitter), these are the contestants in the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest:

Below are the NBA’s announced players for the newly revamped Taco Bell Skills Challenge (Twitter link). This year, the Skills Challenge will be divvied up into three teams: Antetokounmpo brothers (“Antetokounmpos”), Cavaliers players (“Cavs”), and rookies (“Rooks”).

These three events will take place on All-Star Saturday on February 19.

New York Notes: Aldridge, Nets, Toppin, Grimes

Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters that center LaMarcus Aldridge will miss the rest of Brooklyn’s current road trip due to a left ankle sprain, per Nick Friedell of ESPN (via Twitter). Friedell adds that Nash expressed optimism about the veteran big man’s ability to rejoin the Nets prior to the upcoming All-Star break.

Aldridge suffered the injury in a 110-106 weekend loss to the Warriors. He departed Golden State’s home arena, the Chase Center, in a walking boot and on crutches. Nash is glad that Aldridge’s injury is not more severe, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

“There’s always a dark side, a bad side of all these injuries or incidents in a game, so you can always look at the positive side,” Nash said. “And fortunately I don’t think it’s a long-term thing; it’s more of a short-term thing.”

Lewis notes that Nash would not reveal the extent of the sprain.

The 6’11” veteran, a seven-time All-Star, has proven to be a helpful role player when available for the 29-20 Nets, averaging 13.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 1.1 BPG in 36 games (22.9 MPG).

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

  • Some changes have been announced near the top of the Nets ownership hierarchy. John Abbamondi, CEO of Nets parent company BSE Global, will be stepping down in July, per Jabari Young of CNBC (Twitter link). Abbamondi was just hired in July 2020. Vice President of Global Partnership Sales Chris Insolera also revealed that he would be leaving BSE today, per Mark J. Burns of the Sports Business Journal (via Twitter).
  • Second-year Knicks power forward Obi Toppin will participate in his second straight Slam Dunk Contest during the 2022 All-Star Weekend, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link). Toppin has seen an uptick in his minutes during his second NBA season with New York, ascending from 11.0 MPG to 15.8 MPG. Through 46 games this season, he is averaging 7.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 1.0 APG on a .541/.250/.772 shooting line.
  • Knicks rookie guard Quentin Grimes has seen his intense commitment to practice pay off with a bigger role on the team, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Grimes has had positive practice habits instilled in him from a young age. “My dad, he grew up playing basketball,” Grimes said. “Played at Santa Clara and was around Kurt Rambis and a lot of NBA guys growing up in the Houston area. He always told me that no matter if you’re not playing, playing a lot, playing 40 minutes, you got to treat every practice like it’s a game because you’re ultimately preparing yourself for the game.” Grimes had a bumpy start to his first NBA season. He played in just 13 of the team’s first 26 games this year, averaging just six minutes per contest. After coronavirus absences gave Grimes an opportunity to play more minutes, he showed more promising flashes. “He treats practice like a game,” head coach Tom Thibodeau raved. “He’s there early. He practices extremely hard. He guards everyone. He’s not going to take any possessions off.” In 33 games (15.9 MPG), Grimes is averaging 5.9 PPG on .420/.403/.727 shooting, along with 1.7 RPG and 1.0 APG.

Knicks Notes: Walker, Randle, Toppin, Grimes, Reddish

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said earlier this week he didn’t want Kemba Walker to return to action until the point guard was confident he could play on a regular basis. Even though Walker returned on Tuesday and scored 19 points in 30 minutes against Minnesota, the veteran guard didn’t make any promises about his future availability, according to Peter Botte of the New York Post.

“We’ll see. We’ll see down the line,” Walker said. “It really just depends on how I feel.”

We have more on the Knicks:

  • The team and star forward Julius Randle haven’t lived up to expectations and it’s unlikely that will change, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps writes. Randle hasn’t come close to reproducing the offensive efficiency he displayed last season, the defense has been subpar, and difference-maker Derrick Rose is out with an injury. As one Eastern Conference executive told Bontemps, “Everything fell into place for them last year, and they haven’t been able to repeat it.”
  • Obi Toppin has seen his playing time plummet in recent games, Botte notes. Toppin, the team’s 2020 lottery pick, has averaged just 11.3 MPG over the past eight contests. He’s averaging 7.7 PPG and 3.7 RPG in 15.8 MPG during his second season.
  • Quentin Grimes has earned more playing time even with several veterans returning to action recently, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. Grimes doesn’t put up big stats but Thibodeau has played Grimes a minimum of 17 minutes in all but one game this month. “Grimes has been playing great basketball,” Thibodeau said of the first-round rookie guard. “But it’s just step by step. You earn your minutes here. What you do in practice. You have to wait for your opportunity and when your opportunity comes, be ready to go.”
  • Newly-acquired Cam Reddish is close to making his Knicks debut, Marc Berman of the New York Post tweets. Thibodeau said Reddish will be ready to return from an ankle sprain “any day now.”