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New York Knicks player likely set up summer trade after ‘altercation’ with head coach during playoffs

New York Knicks youngster Obi Toppin may have set up a trade out of Gotham this summer after he and head coach Tom Thibodeau reportedly had a serious clash over his usage during the NBA playoffs.

The New York Knicks took Dayton star and Brooklyn native Obi Toppin with their top selection in the 2020 NBA Draft. The eighth overall pick was seen as a player that could make an immediate impact in his rookie season in the league, however, that was not the case.

Related: NBA trade tracker – NBA trades today with grades and analysis

It took some time for Toppin to fit into head coach Tom Thibodeau’s system. But by the end of his debut year, he showed signs of his upside and seemed to have a lot of growth in the 2021-2022 season. Yet, one of the biggest issues hampering Toppin’s development and opportunities is the fact that he is blocked by two-time All-Star Julius Randle.

Making it all the harder for Obi Toppin to get meaningful playing time with the New York Knicks is the fact that Thibodeau is no fan of having him and Randle on the floor at the same time. In 2022-2023 Toppin’s minutes declined as Randle had an All-NBA season and it has intensified speculation that the organization must finally pull the trigger on trading Toppin while he still has some value.

Obi Toppin had an ‘intense’ confrontation with New York Knicks head coach during playoffs

new york knicks
Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

That possibility seemingly increased in a major way based on a new report from The Athletic’s New York Knicks reporter Fred Katz. Earlier this week, Katz revealed that Toppin and Thibodeau had an “intense” confrontation following the team’s Game 4 loss to the Miami Heat in the semifinals of this year’s playoffs.

“According to league sources who were present, once the final buzzer sounded Toppin aired his grievances to Thibodeau. The 24-year-old wants to play, and he wants to win. That evening, neither happened. An intense verbal altercation occurred between the player and coach as the group trekked to the Kaseya Center visiting locker room in Miami. It spilled into the postgame meeting once the doors closed.”

– Fred Katz

Players and coaches arguing is not a shocking development, but it seems likely this was an issue building for a long time and it hit a head when Toppin was benched for most of the second-half in that game. Toppin also played very well for the team in the final weeks of the season when Randle was out with an ankle injury.

  • Obi Toppin stats (’22-’23): 7.4 PPG,, 2.8 RPg, 1.0 APG, 34% 3PT

The New York Knicks forward has been linked to trades since late last year, including a potential deal with the Indiana Pacers.

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