Obi Toppin

Pacers Not Rushing To Extend Toppin, Nesmith, McConnell

The Pacers are in “no rush” regarding potential extensions for forwards Obi Toppin and Aaron Nesmith and guard T.J. McConnell, general manager Chad Buchanan told Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star and other media members.

Toppin was acquired during the summer from the Knicks to compete for the power forward spot. He’ll make $6.8MM this season and become a restricted free agent if he’s extended a qualifying offer after the season.

Nesmith started 60 of 73 games for the Pacers last season and appears set to be a regular rotation player again following the offseason trade of fellow wing Chris Duarte. Nesmith is in a similar spot as Toppin regarding his contract status. He’ll make $5.6MM this season and head into restricted free agency next season if a QO is offered.

“We’ll have conversations with their agents,” Buchanan said. “Obi is someone that we haven’t seen on our team yet. We’d like to see how things play out there. Aaron obviously has had one year with us and did a good job for us. It’s got to be the right situation for both sides. We’ll have those conversations but there’s no rush or anything to do something with those two guys in the short term.”

As for McConnell, the 31-year-old backup point man will make $8.7MM this season. His $9.3MM salary for next season is partially guaranteed for $5MM. His rotation spot is also in flux and Dopirak suggests the team may eventually look to trade him rather than extend him.

“T.J. is another guy who wants to play and he deserves to play,” Buchanan said. “He’s going to come in to compete. T.J. has had to compete for everything in his life. How that’s going to look, we don’t know yet, but I think he wants to be a Pacer. He’s happy being a Pacer. He wants to be here and that’s something we need to see play out and see where it goes.”

Central Notes: Altman, B. Brown, Pacers, Cunningham

The attorney for Koby Altman submitted a plea of not guilty on his behalf on Tuesday after the Cavaliers president of basketball operations was charged with committing a marked lanes violation and operating a vehicle while impaired, per TMZ Sports.

Police video obtained by TMZ and News 5 Cleveland (YouTube link) showed Altman appearing to struggle to complete a series of field sobriety tests after being pulled over in Cleveland on Friday night. The Cavaliers executive told officers that he was “exhausted” after returning from a trip overseas and was driving home after a long dinner.

The Cavaliers, who initially issued a brief statement announcing that they were gathering information on the incident, have put out a follow-up statement, according to Chris Fedor of (Twitter links).

“We hold our team members to a high standard of conduct and expect leaders at every level of our organization to represent the Cavaliers with integrity, professionalism and accountability,” the Cavs said. We will continue to closely monitor the facts and circumstances of this matter and await resolution of the legal process.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In a discussion about the best offseason move made by a Central Division team, Josh Robbins and James L. Edwards III of The Athletic both pick the Pacers‘ signing of Bruce Brown, while their colleague Darnell Mayberry chooses the Pistons‘ hiring of Monty Williams as their new head coach.
  • Within the same story, Edwards, Robbins, and Mayberry identify Pistons guard Cade Cunningham and Pacers forward Obi Toppin and Jarace Walker as some of the top breakout candidates in the Central.
  • The majority of the Pacers‘ players were in attendance for Summer League in Las Vegas, signaling the team’s growing chemistry and a culture that’s on the right trajectory, contends Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (subscription required).

Central Notes: Toppin, Catlin, Pistons, Bucks

Forward Obi Toppin, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal and is currently eligible for a rookie scale extension, says he’s looking forward to playing for the Pacers in 2023/24 after being acquired from New York in a trade last month. Part of that is Indiana’s “family-type environment,” but he also thinks it’ll be a good fit on the court as well, according to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.

That’s my game,” Toppin said at his camp in Dayton. “Everybody knows my game. In the open floor, I run the floor really hard. We’re gonna play with a fast pace. That what’s the league is. We’re not slowing it down. They’re trying to get a bucket in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. I feel like that’s good for us, getting us as many easy buckets as we can.

“I just feel like Indiana’s vision is going to be playing me to my strengths. I feel like they’re going to allow me to get back to what I do best, which is put pressure on the rim, attack the rim.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Longtime Pacers staffer Vance Catlin, who previously held the title of director of pro scouting, has been promoted to vice president of pro scouting, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Catlin is known as a tireless worker and has been with the organization for 20 years, Agness notes.
  • How do Pistons fans feel about the team’s offseason? Are they confident in Detroit’s direction? James L. Edwards III of The Athletic received over 1,500 votes from subscribers for his annual survey, and fans seem to be cautiously optimistic for the most part, despite the Pistons winning just 17 games last season. Notably, fans are bullish on Cade Cunningham‘s potential and the hiring of new head coach Monty Williams. Fans are less optimistic about Marvin Bagley III and James Wiseman, but Edwards believes the former No. 2 overall picks likely won’t have major roles, as Jalen Duren is firmly entrenched as the center of the future.
  • The Bucks have a new head coach in Adrian Griffin and he will face some tough rotation decisions entering 2023/24, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Starting shooting guard and backup point guard are the two spots that appear the most tenuous at the moment. In fact, Milwaukee doesn’t have a traditional backup point guard on its 15-man roster, which makes Nehm wonder if the team will eventually take the “simplest” route by addressing the position with a trade or free agent addition.

Central Notes: Williams, Pistons, Haliburton, Toppin, Mitchell

The inclusion of young Pistons guards Cade Cunningham and Jalen Duren on USA Basketball’s Select Team ahead of the August FIBA World Cup is a positive sign for Detroit, writes Keith Langlois of

As Langlois explains, even being named to the group against which Team USA will scrimmage should be seen as a big honor, and being able to rub shoulders with some of the elite young players in the game should help clue the two young Pistons into just what it takes to thrive as a pro.

According to Langlois, Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, actually received an invitation to join Team USA’s World Cup roster, but opted for a “more measured approach” as he continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired shin.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • New Pistons head coach Monty Williams will have numerous options as he susses out Detroit’s rotation, writes Langlois in a separate piece. Langlois notes that, while the starting roles of Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and power forward Bojan Bogdanovic are secure, it will be up to Williams to configure the rest of the club’s rotation.
  • Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton and newly acquired power forward Obi Toppin gave fans a tantalizing look at their on-court fit during Kyle Guy‘s Dizzy Runs Pro Am in Noblesville, Indiana, per The Indianapolis Star (subscriber-only link). Toppin discussed his offseason program. “It’s been mostly making shots and working on some of the actions that are different than New York’s,” Toppin said. “It’s just learning the new lingo and the offense that they run. I’ve been working with Ty with that and he’s been teaching me a little bit.”
  • The Cavaliers’ priority is holding onto All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell long-term with a team that he enjoys, not trading him, writes Sean Deveney of Mitchell has a player option for 2025/26, meaning he could reach free agency in just two seasons. “They’re doing their best to reconfigure things around him and just keep rolling out the red carpet, making sure he knows he is taking care of, all of that,” a source told Deveney. “No one is hitting the eject button on this… Make him happy, make him comfortable, that is the job.”

Central Notes: Giannis, Nembhard, Toppin, Freeman-Liberty

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is included on the preliminary roster that Greece submitted this week for the FIBA World Cup, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Although it’s uncertain whether he’ll play, the move is an encouraging sign after Antetokounmpo underwent minor surgery on his left knee in June.

There have been concerns about Antetokounmpo’s condition in the wake of the operation, which was described as a clean-up procedure, and the back injury he suffered during Milwaukee’s first-round playoff series against Miami.

Vardon notes that Antetokounmpo has said that helping Greece capture a World Cup title is one of his professional goals. The two-time MVP is a frequent participant in international competitions, taking part in the World Cup four years ago and EuroBasket last summer.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Tyrese Haliburton only needed to watch Pacers teammate Andrew Nembhard play one game during Summer League to know he was too good for the competition, according to an Indianapolis Star story. “Y’all can send Andrew home,” Haliburton told president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and general manager Chad Buchanan after watching Nembhard dominate the team’s first game in Las Vegas. “He don’t need to be here.” Although Nembhard appears ready for a larger role in his second NBA season, Indiana’s offseason moves may complicate that. The Pacers signed Bruce Brown and drafted Ben Sheppard, and coach Rick Carlisle may decide to promote Bennedict Mathurin to a starting job in the backcourt alongside Haliburton.
  • Obi Toppin never averaged more than 17.1 minutes per game during his three seasons with the Knicks, but he’s the Pacers‘ presumed starter at power forward, The Indianapolis Star adds in a projection of the team’s depth chart. Lottery pick Jarace Walker, who was impressive during Summer League, will probably be Toppin’s primary backup.
  • The Bulls were exploring ways to sign Javon Freeman-Liberty, who starred for them in Las Vegas, when he agreed to a two-way contract with the Raptors on Friday, agent Keith Glass tells K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Chicago filled its final two-way slot later in the day by reaching an agreement with Onuralp Bitim.

Central Notes: Toppin, Fall, Terry, Dobner

Obi Toppin is happy that he can wipe the slate clean with another franchise, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes.

Toppin was traded by the Knicks to the Pacers after being limited to 15 starts in 201 games through three seasons. He only averaged 14.7 minutes per game after being the eighth overall pick of the 2020 draft.

“I didn’t get the minutes I wanted. But now it’s a fresh start. I’m here in Indy,” he said. “I got to work for everything I want. And I’m super excited to start.”

The Knicks received two future second-rounders in the deal.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Tacko Fall is on the Bucks’ Summer  League roster, hoping to get another shot to play in the league during the regular season. The 7’6” Fall spent last seasons in China. “When you know what you’re capable of, you’ve just got to keep going until you hit it, and that’s pretty much what I’m doing right now,” he told Steve Bulpett of Fall has appeared in a total of 37 NBA games with Boston and Cleveland.
  • Dalen Terry, the No. 18 pick of the 2022 draft, blanketed Toronto rookie Gradey Dick during the Bulls’ Summer League opener on Friday. It’s exactly the type of growth Chicago’s staff wants to see from Terry, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes. “I love that type of energy and effort and accountability to want to be great defensively,” Summer League coach John Bryant said. “Let’s see how it continues. I think he’s a great defender. I think he has the ability to be a great, consistent defender.”
  • Sidney Dobner confidently stated her case to new Bucks head coach Adrian Griffin and that helped her become the franchise’s first female assistant coach, according to Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She was Milwaukee’s first female video coordinator last season. “I reached out to Coach Griff and shot my shot a little bit,” she said. “The NBA moves fast and sometimes you just got to take hold of your opportunity. Just presented the idea to him and it sounded like he was really on board, and next thing you know I was being announced as an assistant coach.”

Knicks Notes: Brown, Toppin, Martin, Bridges

Bruce Brown revealed this week that the Knicks were the only other team he met with before deciding to sign with the Pacers, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Brown was one of the most sought-after free agents on the market after helping the Nuggets win the NBA title. Several teams, including New York, were hoping to land him with their mid-level exception, but Indiana blew away its competitors with a two-year, $45MM offer.

“The Knicks were the first (meeting). I think we had others lined up, but we didn’t make it there,” said Brown, who added that he was heavily recruited by Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton.

Bondy notes that Indiana is also the destination for Obi Toppin, who was acquired from New York in exchange for a pair of future second-round picks. Toppin was stuck behind Julius Randle with the Knicks and his defense wasn’t up to coach Tom Thibodeau’s standards, but Indiana views him as a perfect fit for its up-tempo style.

The trade leaves New York with an unbalanced roster that’s heavy on guards and doesn’t have an obvious replacement for Toppin, Bondy adds. The current options are either too small to play power forward or too inexperienced to be counted on for regular minutes.

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • With a potential hole in their rotation and plenty of assets available to make an impact trade, the Knicks can’t be done with their offseason, says Peter Botte of The New York Post (subscriber link), arguing that the team still needs to take a big swing if it wants to have a legitimate chance to contend in the East next season.
  • Jaylen Martin, who signed a two-way contract with New York after going undrafted, was one of Overtime Elite’s most talented players, his coach told Ian Begley of Tim Fanning said a hamstring injury that forced Martin to miss two months of the season kept him from getting the same notice as the Thompson twins, who were both lottery picks. “He just ticks a lot of boxes in terms of what you want from a basketball player, especially on the wing,” Fanning said. “He was shooting the ball at a great clip from three. His defense and rebounding – his floor game – was spectacular. His transition, (attacking the) close out, also was on another level from the rest of the competition outside of the Thompsons in that first month of the season.”
  • Mikal Bridges, now a cornerstone player for the cross-town Nets, said recently on the Tidal League podcast that he thought he’d be drafted by the Knicks back in 2018 (Twitter video link). “I thought I was going to go to New York at 9,” Bridges said (hat tip to Jeremy Layton of The New York Post). “I was excited though because I wanted to go to the Knicks, I wanted to be in New York, I’m like, ‘That’s lit.’ Like, still close to home, but a little further out – and I love MSG, all my best games in college were there.” New York ended up drafting Kevin Knox with the No. 9 pick, with Bridges going one spot later to Phoenix (via Philadelphia).

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Knicks Trade Obi Toppin To Pacers

JULY 7: The trade is official, the Knicks announced today in a press release (Twitter link). Toppin has been traded into the Pacers’ cap room in exchange for the two second-round picks described below.

JULY 6: The Knicks will receive either the Suns’ or Pacers’ 2028 second-round pick (whichever is least favorable) and either the Pacers’ or Wizards’ 2029 second-round pick (whichever is least favorable) for Toppin, reports Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link).

JULY 1: The Knicks and Pacers are finalizing a trade that will send forward Obi Toppin to Indiana, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, the Knicks will acquire a pair of second-round picks in exchange for Toppin, who was the eighth overall pick in the 2020 draft.

Marc Stein and Ian Begley of reported prior to free agency that the Pacers were talking to the Knicks about Toppin and had emerged as the leading candidate to land him. It’s a logical fit, since Indiana has the cap room necessary to acquire the 25-year-old’s $6.8MM expiring contract without sending out any salary and has been in the market for another power forward.

While lottery pick Jarace Walker figures to see minutes for the Pacers as a rookie, Toppin should have an opportunity to play a bigger role in Indiana than he did in New York, where he spent the majority of his first three NBA seasons backing up Julius Randle.

In 139 games for the Knicks since the start of 2021/22, Toppin has averaged 8.2 PPG and 3.3 RPG on .491/.329/.772 shooting in 139 games (16.4 MPG). He’ll be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, or restricted free agency in 2024 if he doesn’t sign a new deal before then.

It’s a somewhat disappointing outcome for the Knicks, whose lottery pick from three years ago will now turn into a pair of second-rounders. However, the move will help create some additional spending flexibility below the tax apron for the club, potentially opening up the full mid-level exception. It’ll also generate a $6.8MM trade exception and contribute a couple more draft assets to New York’s ever-growing stash.

Knicks Rumors: George, Barrett, Hart, Embiid, Roby, Quickley

On June 22, the night of last month’s draft, the Knicks contemplated sending the Clippers a trade package that featured Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, Evan Fournier and three first-round picks in exchange for star forward Paul George, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

When New York later agreed to trade Toppin to the Pacers for a couple second-rounders, the Clippers briefly brought up RJ Barrett to take his place in the aforementioned trade framework, says Scotto. The Knicks balked at that proposal, believing the asking was price too steep for George, who will make $45.64MM in 2023/24 and is eligible for an extension this offseason, per Scotto.

The Knicks control multiple protected first-round picks from other teams, so it’s unclear whether the first-rounders Scotto mentioned were protected in some fashion or were their own unprotected picks. Either way, apparently the talks didn’t advance.

Still, the Knicks remain on the lookout for a third star to complement Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, according to Scotto.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • According to Ian Begley of, Josh Hart will sign a long-term extension with the Knicks in August once he becomes eligible. His maximum extension number would be $81MM over four years, and Begley hears the veteran wing will receive “slightly less” than that figure. It seems highly likely that Hart exercised his player option in order to give the team more financial flexibility in free agency, with a handshake agreement on an extension.
  • Begley hears from sources who say the Knicks haven’t budged on their asking prices for star players on the trade market, including Damian Lillard and James Harden, and both players are unlikely to wind up in New York. Like Zach Lowe of ESPN, Begley continues to hear the Knicks might be eyeing Joel Embiid in the future.
  • Prior to using their mid-level exception to sign Donte DiVincenzo, the Knicks were interested in several unrestricted free agents, including Bruce Brown, Max Strus and Yuta Watanabe, Scotto states. Brown signed with the Pacers; Strus landed in Cleveland via sign-and-trade; and Watanabe signed with Phoenix.
  • Losing Toppin means New York has rotation minutes available at backup power forward. Scotto hears Isaiah Roby will be given an opportunity to win the job, with Hart an option in small-ball lineups. Roby signed with the Knicks on the last day of the ’22/23 regular season, receiving a significant upfront payment ($400K) that suggested he could be in the team’s future plans.
  • Sixth Man of the Year runner-up Immanuel Quickley‘s floor in a rookie scale extension is expected to be $20MM annually, and Scotto’s sources say the Knicks would consider a deal in that range. However, if the two sides don’t reach an agreement and Quickley continues to improve next season, Scotto says New York might contemplate using him as part of a trade package for a star.

Trade Rumors: Lillard, Harden, Brogdon, Fournier, Rockets

The Trail Blazers told rival teams that they are “open for business everywhere in the league” regarding a Damian Lillard trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (YouTube link).

Lillard, who asked for a trade on Saturday after weeks of speculation, reportedly hopes to end up in Miami, where he could be part of a title contender. However, the Heat may not be able to offer the best trade package, and Portland GM Joe Cronin intends to focus on the team’s needs rather than Lillard’s preference while negotiating a deal.

“For Portland, they’re going to go out into the marketplace and try to find the best deal they can,” Wojnarowski said, “a combination of young players, draft picks, salary cap relief, all the things you want when a star of Damian Lillard’s magnitude asks to be traded.”

Woj adds that he doesn’t expect a Lillard deal to be completed quickly and that Miami doesn’t have any advantage because Lillard wants to go there. The Blazers haven’t told Lillard whether they intend to comply with his request to join the Heat, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

There are more trade rumors to pass along:

  • The Sixers‘ asking price for James Harden has been “really high,” Wojnarowski said in the same segment, noting that president of basketball operations Daryl Morey tends to seek a lot in return when a star player wants to be traded. Harden picked up his $35.6MM player option this week, and reports have indicated that he wants to be dealt to the Clippers. Wojnarowski adds that it’s “not an easy trade to make” because Philadelphia has to get value in return to pair with MVP Joel Embiid and keep the team in title contention. Woj speculates that trade talks could extend beyond Summer League action.
  • The Celtics aren’t trying to trade Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, a source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Brogdon was involved in an early version of the Kristaps Porzingis deal, but that fell through when the Clippers pulled out due to medical concerns about Brogdon. Himmelsbach adds that Brogdon is expected to be ready for the start of next season, even though he’s considering surgery for a right elbow injury he suffered in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • The Knicks will continue to explore trades involving Evan Fournier, per Ian Begley of, but they don’t need to open any more cap flexibility to add Donte DiVincenzo after agreeing to send Obi Toppin to the Pacers. New York doesn’t seem to be actively pursuing either Lillard or Harden, according to Begley.
  • David Weiner of (Twitter link) suspects the Rockets will fold multiple reported trade agreements into their sign-and-trade deal for Dillon Brooks in order to maximize their cap room. After acquiring Patty Mills and using up their remaining cap space, Weiner posits, Houston will package Josh Christopher (to the Grizzlies), Usman Garuba and TyTy Washington (to the Hawks), and Mills (destination TBD), whose combined salaries will be enough to match Brooks’ expected first-year salary (approximately $21.6MM) without requiring room.