Obi Toppin

Knicks Notes: Hart, Quickley, Toppin, Fournier, Barrett

Josh Hart appears open to a long-term contract with the Knicks, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said in a discussion about the team with Ian Begley of SNY. Hart has been a perfect fit since being acquired from the Trail Blazers at the trade deadline, and he has quickly become a favorite of head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Hart has a $13MM player option for next season, but he’s expected to turn it down and test the market. Scotto said Hart enjoys being in New York and will likely get a three- or four-year offer from the team.

Begley adds that the Knicks wouldn’t have parted with a future first-round pick along with Cam Reddish unless they were confident that they could keep Hart. He notes that Hart has talked about his connections to team president Leon Rose as well as Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle and is looking for stability after being traded four times in his first six NBA seasons.

There’s more on the Knicks from Scotto and Begley:

  • Teams may have missed an opportunity by not trading for Immanuel Quickley earlier this season, per Scotto, who says there were rumors that New York would have taken a first-round pick in return. Quickley is now among the favorites for Sixth Man of the Year honors and may be in line for a rookie scale extension this summer. Begley suggests the Knicks’ offer will have to be “something significant” to get Quickley to accept, adding that he’s not likely to give them a “home team discount.”
  • Randle’s reemergence should make Obi Toppin a strong trade candidate, according to Scotto. The third-year power forward is playing just 14.6 minutes per game and will make $6.8MM next season. Begley states that the Knicks talked to several teams about Toppin before the deadline, including the Pacers, but no one was willing to offer the draft assets they wanted in return for the former lottery pick.
  • New York will also look for a taker for Evan Fournier, who will have a virtual $18.8MM expiring contract next season because there’s a team option for 2024/25. Fournier was brought up in trade talks with the Raptors involving OG Anunoby, but Toronto was asking for three first-round picks and the Knicks weren’t confident about re-signing Anunoby when he reaches free agency in 2024, Scotto says. The Lakers also had some interest in Fournier earlier in the season, Begley adds.
  • RJ Barrett hasn’t been in Thibodeau’s closing lineups recently, and Scotto believes the Knicks would be willing to use him as a trade chip if they chase a star player this summer.

Bulls, Knicks Discussing Zach LaVine Deal

The Bulls and Knicks are discussing a deal involving high-scoring wing Zach LaVine, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports (Twitter link).

The two parties have been talking but they temporarily broke off those negotiations on Wednesday. They’re now actively discussing a potential LaVine trade once again, Cowley adds.

While multiple reports in recent weeks have indicated the Bulls are unlikely to move one of their core pieces at the deadline, it sounds like they haven’t ruled out that possibility.

There has been an internal debate within the Knicks organization about whether to include Immanuel Quickley in any trade discussions, according to Matt Moore of Action Network. The Knicks have also been linked to Raptors forward OG Anunoby, so the revived discussions with the Bulls could signal New York is willing to deal Quickley.

LaVine, who is averaging 23.6 points per game, is in the first year of a five-year, maximum-salary contract worth approximately $215MM.

The Knicks have already agreed to acquire Josh Hart from Portland but they could include any number of players, including Quickley, to make a LaVine trade a reality. RJ Barrett and/or Obi Toppin might also be logical trade pieces if the Knicks decide to make a blockbuster move.

Trade Rumors: Bey, Wiseman, Bridges, Toppin, LeVert, Gordon, More

The Pistons and Warriors have engaged in discussions about a possible trade that would involve forward Saddiq Bey and center James Wiseman, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

According to Fischer, Golden State has shown an increased willingness to move Wiseman and Detroit has interest in the former No. 2 overall pick — he was atop the Pistons’ draft board in 2020, notes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

Still, both Sankofa and James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter links) say that no deal appears imminent between the Warriors and Pistons, so the talks may not ultimately bear fruit. According to Fischer (Twitter link), Golden State may be weighing an offer from Detroit against other trade opportunities.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA, with the deadline less than two hours away:

  • According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link), the Rockets are among the teams that have kicked the tires on Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, who are headed to the Nets as part of the Kevin Durant trade. However, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) has heard that Brooklyn intends to hang onto Bridges through Thursday’s trade deadline.
  • The Pacers are among the teams to register interest for Knicks forward Obi Toppin, while the Kings are among the teams to have inquired about point guard Derrick Rose, says Ian Begley of The asking price for Toppin is substantial, according to Begley.
  • The Cavaliers have informed veteran wing Caris LeVert that he won’t be traded before Thursday’s deadline, according to Matt Moore of Action Network.
  • Moore also reports that the Pelicans, Grizzlies, and Knicks have made offers for Raptors forward OG Anunoby that include multiple draft picks. There has been internal debate within the Knicks organization about whether to include Immanuel Quickley in any trade offers, including for Anunoby, Moore writes.
  • Both Brian Smith and Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter links) have heard rumblings about the increasing likelihood that Rockets shooting guard Eric Gordon will be on the move today. Moore reported that there’s skepticism around the league about Houston’s ability to get a first-round pick for Gordon.

Knicks, Jazz Have Had Exploratory Talks About Beasley, Vanderbilt

The Knicks and Jazz have engaged in some exploratory conversations about a possible trade that would send wing Malik Beasley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt to New York, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

According to Scotto, the proposed deal would see Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, and draft capital going to Utah.

As Scotto details, the specific draft assets going from the Knicks to the Jazz presumably represent the sticking point in the talks between the two teams. Utah has reportedly sought a first-round pick for Beasley and one for Vanderbilt as well.

Given that Fournier’s contract, which includes an $18.9MM guaranteed salary for 2023/24, is viewed as a negative asset, the Jazz may want another first-round pick for taking on that deal rather than simply considering him the salary-matching piece for Beasley. On the other hand, Toppin – the eighth overall pick in 2020 – should have positive value and could perhaps take the place of one of the first-rounders Utah is seeking, Scotto notes.

Of course, even if the Knicks and Jazz could agree on the number of first-round picks that would accompany Fournier and Toppin to Utah, the two teams may not see eye to eye on how those picks are protected.

New York controls several protected first-rounders from other teams, including Dallas’ 2023 pick (top-10 protected), Washington’s 2023 pick (top-14 protected), Detroit’s 2023 pick (top-18 protected), and Milwaukee’s 2025 pick (top-four protected). Of those selections, only Milwaukee’s has a chance to ultimately land in the top eight. The Knicks also have the ability to add protections to their own first-rounders if they’re willing to trade one or more of them.

However, CEO Danny Ainge made it a priority to stockpile unprotected first-round selections in his offseason trades involving Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Beasley and Vanderbilt don’t carry the same value as those two All-Stars, so Ainge won’t have as much leverage in this instance, but he’ll still be pushing to make the protections as light as possible on any pick he acquires.

Current Knicks executive Gersson Rosas signed both Beasley and Vanderbilt to their current contracts when he was the head of basketball operations in Minnesota. Led by president of basketball operations Leon Rose, New York had interest in Beasley before he re-signed with the Wolves in 2020, Scotto writes.

Beasley has reportedly drawn interest this season from teams like Cleveland, Atlanta, Phoenix and New Orleans in addition to New York.

As for Vanderbilt, Scotto has heard that the Pacers have interest in the fifth-year forward, previously named the Suns as a possible suitor, and confirms that the Trail Blazers are in the mix as well. Forward Nassir Little is a player to watch if Portland gets involved in trade talks with Utah, Scotto adds.

Trade Candidate Watch: Players On Rookie Scale Contracts

Leading up to the February 9 trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA. We’re continuing today with a handful of former first-round picks who are still on their rookie scale contracts.

This list does not include players in the last year of their rookie contract, as those players could become restricted free agents in the offseason. We covered some of those players here.

Bones Hyland, G, Nuggets

2022/23: $2.2MM
2023/24: $2.3MM
2024/25: $4.16MM team option

The No. 26 overall pick of the 2021 draft, Hyland is looking like perhaps the most likely player to be traded out of this group.

Hyland only makes a combined $4.5MM this season and next, with a $4.16MM club option for 2024/25. That’s really cheap for a talented shooter (37.8% on threes, 86.6% on free throws) who has a fairly substantial role (19.5 MPG, 10.3 FGA) on the West’s No. 1 seed.

On the other hand, he might be looking for more minutes, and has reportedly had “occasional clashes” with head coach Michael Malone. His decision-making and shot selection can be questionable, his net rating (-8.4) is kind of a disaster (Denver’s bench units haven’t been great), and some advanced stats say he’s one of the worst defenders in the league.

Denver is said to be looking for a two-way wing and/or draft compensation for Hyland.

Saddiq Bey, F, Pistons

2022/23: $2.96MM
2023/24: $4.56MM

The No. 19 pick of the 2020 draft, Bey was productive right away for Detroit, earning a spot on the All-Rookie First Team by averaging 12.2 PPG and 4.5 RPG while shooting 38% on threes.

He had a tough start to his sophomore year, averaging 11.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 2.3 APG on .345/.296/.735 shooting through 26 games (31.7 MPG). However, he was solid the rest of the way, averaging 18.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 3.1 APG on .417/.364/.849 shooting over his remaining 56 contests (33.6 MPG).

Bey, who turns 24 in April, can be wildly inconsistent from game-to-game offensively. For example, last March he scored a career-high 51 points (on 17-of-27 shooting) against Orlando, but in the five games preceding that victory, he posted a .321/.235/.737 shooting line.

One of Bey’s best attributes is that he has been quite durable, having played all 82 games in ‘21/22 and only missing six of a possible 206 games to this point in his career. The Knicks are reportedly among the teams that have shown interest in Bey, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason.

Obi Toppin, F, Knicks

2022/23: $5.35MM
2023/24: $6.8MM

It’s hard to know what to make of Toppin, who was the No. 8 pick of the 2020 draft. On one hand, he averaged 20.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 3.0 APG on .571/.436/.818 shooting in 10 games as a starter last year. On the other, those numbers were somewhat inflated because most of them came in early April, when many teams aren’t exactly taking the games seriously.

Toppin is shooting – and making – more threes this season in an effort to expand his game, but it has come at the cost of his rim-running, which is a little strange (he shot 64.7% on twos over his first two seasons, but is only at 48.9% in ‘22/23). I’m not sure it’s wise for him to be attempting more threes than twos, and it hasn’t helped him get more playing time.

It’s a tough spot for both the player and team, as Julius Randle has been a better all-around player and head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t shown much interest in playing the two power forwards together. Toppin is a limited defensive player, but he tries.

Randle is under contract through at least ‘24/25, with a player option in ‘25/26. What’s the pathway for Toppin to become a starter in New York going forward? Does that matter to him?

The Pacers reportedly showed interest in Toppin earlier this season, though it’s unclear if they remain interested.

Payton Pritchard, G, Celtics

2022/23: $2.24MM
2023/24: $4.04MM

Pritchard, who just turned 25 over the weekend, was the No. 26 overall pick of the 2020 draft. The former Oregon standout is a career 39.8% three-point shooter who has seen his minutes reduced due to a backcourt logjam.

After averaging 19.2 minutes per game as a rookie in ‘20/21, he logged 14.1 MPG last season and is down to 12.5 MPG in ‘22/23. He has also been a healthy scratch several times this season.

The Celtics have the NBA’s best record, and having a cheap insurance policy like Pritchard capable of filling in when called upon is a reflection of the team’s depth. He has posted a positive net rating in each of his three seasons.

However, you could also make the case that his presence is more of a luxury than a necessity, with Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon all ahead of him in the backcourt pecking order. If the Celtics want to upgrade their depth at another position (center?), Pritchard could be used as part of a return package.

The Warriors are among the teams that have reportedly expressed interest in Pritchard. As was the case with Bey and Toppin, the 6’1″ guard will be extension-eligible in the summer.

Note: This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, just a brief overview. A number of other former first-rounders on their rookie scale deals could be traded ahead of next week’s deadline, including Cam Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe, James Wiseman, Moses Moody, Jaden Springer, James Bouknight, Kai Jones and Shaedon Sharpe, among others.

Some of the aforementioned young players haven’t been involved in rumors to this point, but are worth keeping an eye on due to their roles and/or team situations. For example, in Sharpe’s case, the Blazers are reportedly a buyer, but their ability to trade a first-round pick is limited due to protections from a previous deal, making the 19-year-old a logical trade chip.

Knicks Notes: Reddish, Quickley, McBride, D. Rose, More

There have been multiple reports on the Knicks‘ asking price for Cam Reddish in recent weeks, with at least one story indicating the team wants two second-round picks while another suggested that just one would do the trick.

According to Fred Katz of The Athletic, the Knicks have expressed to certain teams that they want a pair of second-rounders for Reddish, but sources from rival clubs believe New York would be amenable to accepting just one.

As Katz observes, the deal the Lakers and Wizards made for Rui Hachimura might actually hurt the Knicks’ market for Reddish, even though Hachimura is also a restricted free-agent-to-be and netted Washington three second-rounders.

Hachimura was a regular contributor in Washington, whereas Reddish hasn’t played for nearly two months. Additionally, the Lakers were viewed as a prime suitor for Reddish, but no longer seem like a probable landing spot for the fourth-year forward, reducing the Knicks’ leverage in trade discussions.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Elsewhere in his story on the Knicks’ trade deadline considerations, Katz confirms that the team has become increasingly resistant to the idea of trading Immanuel Quickley after having been open to moving him earlier in the season and cites league sources who say New York has “decisively” turned down inquiries on reserve guard Miles McBride. McBride isn’t currently a major part of the Knicks’ rotation, but the team likes him “for the long haul,” Katz explains.
  • If Derrick Rose remains on the roster through the trade deadline, buying him out and allowing him to sign with a contender is a possibility, according to Katz. But the Knicks have also discussed the idea of hanging onto the point guard into the offseason in case his $15.6MM team option for 2023/24 becomes a useful salary-matching asset in a trade for an impact player.
  • Reserve center Isaiah Hartenstein was happy to be able to contribute to the Knicks’ win over Cleveland on Tuesday with some key defensive plays in crunch time, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “It’s big. It’s kind of what I came here for,” Hartenstein said. “I know for myself if I’m not playing as good as I’m supposed to be playing I feel like I’m kind of letting the fans down, the city down a little bit. But I’m just going to keep getting better because I know I can do it. So keep getting better and keep representing for New York.”
  • Head coach Tom Thibodeau likes what he’s seeing from a second unit that features Hartenstein, McBride, Quickley, and Obi Toppin playing alongside starter RJ Barrett, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “Huge. I mentioned it earlier that the bench was playing really well prior to RJ getting hurt, then Obi got hurt and we haven’t found our rhythm,” Thibodeau said. “Now I think we’re starting to find that rhythm again.”

Knicks Notes: Toppin, Reddish, Quickley, Hartenstein

Knicks forward Obi Toppin, who has averaged just 10.7 minutes per night in six games since returning from a leg injury, is a good candidate to play an increased role with Mitchell Robinson on the shelf due to a broken thumb, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post.

In order to earn those extra minutes though, Toppin recognizes that he has to play better, Botte writes in a separate New York Post story. The former lottery pick has made just 4-of-18 shots since his return and has gone scoreless in three of his last four games.

“I don’t know,” Toppin responded when asked why he thinks he’s struggling. “Just confidence? Shoot the ball when I have open shots, drive the ball when I have to drive the ball. Just play great basketball. It’s just more repetitions in the game. Just having an opportunity to shoot some shots in the game, get that touch again. And I feel like once I get that touch – I’m shooting well in practice, I’m shooting well here, it’s just in the game, having those game looks, finding that rhythm again.”

Of course, while Toppin could play alongside Julius Randle in smaller lineups, the Knicks will also need one or both of Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims to step up in Robinson’s absence. Fred Katz of The Athletic explores what to expect from the team’s two backup centers, noting that – while he’s not the rim protector Robinson is – Sims is a more versatile defender than Hartenstein, with the ability to get out to the perimeter to guard non-bigs.

Here’s more from out of New York:

  • A recent report from Michael Scotto indicated the Knicks would like to get two second-round picks back in exchange for Cam Reddish, but Ian Begley of hears from teams in touch with the Knicks that one second-rounder may be enough to get something done. New York’s ability to get draft compensation for Reddish could come down to what sort of player the team is willing to take back for salary-matching purposes.
  • Elsewhere on the trade front, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic cites an NBA executive who said earlier this week that he doesn’t believe Immanuel Quickley is “gettable” in a trade anymore, like he was earlier in the season.
  • As Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes, Isaiah Hartenstein still doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with his role as a center in Tom Thibodeau‘s system, but he did say the Achilles injury that was bothering him earlier in the season has improved. “I feel like I can jump a little bit, dunk the ball a little bit more,” Hartenstein said. “So I think when that keeps getting better and better defensively I’ll feel more confident.”

Warriors Rumors: Wiseman, Moody, Kuminga, J. Green, Lamb, More

The Warriors‘ approach to this season’s trade deadline might resemble the path they took two years ago, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Back in 2021, Kelly Oubre was considered a potential trade chip as Golden State hovered around .500, but the team hung onto Oubre and only made two small salary-dump deals involving Marquese Chriss and Brad Wanamaker.

According to Slater, this season’s Warriors are a better bet to make moves on the fringe like those ones than to do anything drastic. That’s why former lottery picks James Wiseman, Moses Moody, and Jonathan Kuminga are likely to remain in Golden State through the deadline instead of being moved, Slater adds. Those youngsters could be traded in the right deal, but the Warriors won’t want to sell low on Wiseman and Moody, and they view Kuminga as a legitimate playoff rotation piece.

If the Warriors make a small move to dump a contract and open up another roster spot, JaMychal Green would be the most obvious trade candidate, Slater observes.

The team already has one spot open on its 15-man roster, but the expectation is that two-way player Anthony Lamb will eventually be promoted to fill that spot. Opening up a second roster slot would position the Warriors to be players on the buyout market. Unlike last year, they could have both a roster and rotation spot to offer veteran free agents this time around, Slater writes.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Theoretically, big men like Jakob Poeltl or Kelly Olynyk would appeal to the Warriors, but the price will likely be too high for a Golden State team that already has Draymond Green and Kevon Looney in its frontcourt and only really needs an insurance policy, Slater writes. Sources tell The Athletic that the Dubs would be more interested in a “versatile multi-positional wing” to play a role similar to the one Otto Porter Jr. did last season.
  • Slater names Jalen McDaniels, Darius Bazley, Rui Hachimura, and Obi Toppin as some possible targets the Warriors could kick the tires on, but acknowledges that rival suitors would probably be in position to outbid Golden State on those sorts of players.
  • While Stephen Curry has been cleared to play in both parts of back-to-back sets going forward, Klay Thompson is still awaiting that same clearance, says Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Thompson sat out on Monday after scoring a team-high 26 points on Sunday, but the expectation is that he’ll be able to play in back-to-backs at some point this season. Assuming he misses either Friday’s game after playing tonight, Thompson’s next opportunity to play in both ends of a back-to-back would be on February 1 and 2.
  • In a conversation with David Aldridge of The Athletic, Draymond Green says he believes he’ll eventually make the Basketball Hall of Fame. “You won’t go and look at my stats and say, ‘This guy’s a surefire Hall of Famer,'” Green said. “But if you know the game of basketball, and you look at the game of basketball, then I think I have a case.”

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Toppin, Sims, Durant, Harris, Harden

The Raptors aren’t shopping any of their core players but they’re willing to listen to any offers, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports writes.

Scottie Barnes remains the Raptors’ only untouchable, though a source told Lewenberg it would take a “king’s ransom” to trade either Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby. The rotation player most likely to be moved is Gary Trent Jr., since he could become a free agent this summer and his next multi-year contract could top $100MM.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks forward Obi Toppin returned to action on Monday night after missing a month due to a leg injury. Jericho Sims was the odd man out of the rotation, as he never left the bench, Greg Joyce of the New York Post notes. Sims has appeared in 32 of the team’s 41 games this season. Toppin only played eight minutes.
  • Even before knowing that Kevin Durant would be out for approximately a month, Nets forward Joe Harris said it would be a “massive blow” to the team if he missed significant time, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “Obviously [it changes] a lot. He’s a focal point for us, offensively, defensively he’s been an elite rim protector this year. He guards the best players. [It would] be obviously a massive blow for us,” he said. “But at the same time, it presents opportunities for everybody else, and we have a lot of depth for reasons like this for everybody just to step up and collectively try and fill that void.”
  • Sixers guard James Harden admitted to Yahoo Sports’ Vince Goodwill that he misses the days when he was counted on to be the primary scorer and posted huge stats, but indicated that winning a championship is his top priority. “I would love that, but not as much — if that makes sense,” Harden said. “In Houston, I was doing that every single night. It was expected. It’s a lot of times I feel like I can have that same impact on games. But you see the bigger picture. I’m just focused on one thing, man. That’s all that matters.”

Knicks Notes: Toppin, Barrett, Robinson, Hartenstein, Sims, Brunson, Thibodeau

Knicks forward Obi Toppin could make his long-awaited return to action on Monday night. He went through a full practice on Sunday and should be available to play against the Bucks, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets.

Toppin, who has not played since Dec. 7 due to a right leg injury, was medically cleared to return earlier this week, but needed more practice reps before the Knicks were comfortable reinserting him into the rotation.

RJ Barrett is listed as doubtful due to a lacerated right index finger, the team tweets.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Mitchell Robinson grabbed 18 rebounds in 35 minutes, including eight on the offensive end, against Toronto on Friday. Robinson has noticed teams are trying to block him out with multiple players on the offensive glass and takes pride in that fact, Bondy writes. “I’m a dangerous man,” Robinson said. “You got to put three guys on me to keep me off the glass. That says a lot. I’m really becoming something.”
  • With Toppin ready to reclaim his spot as the backup power forward, Isaiah Hartenstein or Jericho Sims will be dropped from the rotation, Bondy adds in the same story. “Whatever we decide to do, that’s part of sacrificing for the team and putting the team first,”  coach Tom Thibodeau said.
  • The Knicks have won four straight and Jalen Brunson has emerged as the team’s closer, according to Bondy. Brunson had 10 points in the final six minutes against Toronto. “What I try and do is try and relax and stay poised in those moments,” Brunson said. “Everyone talks about pressure and all that stuff, but just got to trust your mechanics, trust everything you do.”
  • Thibodeau has notched 100 coaching victories since being hired by the Knicks, Steve Popper of Newsday notes. “I’m glad to be a part of all 100. Thibs has come in here and created a great culture for all of us,” Julius Randle said. “He’s been amazing. The support, holding us accountable, the belief for us to win every night. I’m happy for him. We’ve got to get him another hundred.”