LAS VEGAS – Obie Toppin didn’t want to talk about the past.
The former Knicks forward wanted to focus on the present with his team, talking about his new organization and his opportunity to enter the final year of his rookie contract.
He commented briefly on his mostly disappointing three-year tenure with his hometown team.
“I can just do what the coach is asking me to do,” Toppin said during the Zoom call. “Whether it’s staying on the field, having tremendous energy, doing whatever I need to do to help the team win. I didn’t get the minutes I wanted. But now it is a new beginning. I’m here in indy. I have to work for everything I want. And I am very excited to get started.
There were high expectations for Toppin, the national player of the year in Dayton in his final year of college basketball, as the Knicks selected him eighth overall in the 2020 draft.
But in his three years as a Knick, his role off the bench was limited.
One reason for this was the emergence of Julius Randle as a two-time All-Star and coach Tom Thibodeau’s opposition to playing the pair together due to their defensive limitations.
Last season, Toppin only averaged 14.7 minutes in 67 games.
Toppin reportedly got into a shouting match with Thibodeau after playing only six minutes and was benched for the entire second half in Game 4 in Miami.
He never publicly complained about his role.
Audio of the verbal incident was leaked anonymously, but Toppin declined to address the matter.
He said, “I’m not really worried about the past anymore, thinking about it.” “I’m just worried about this fresh start, fresh start, and I can’t wait to get out there.”
An interesting tidbit in the Toppin saga is that prior to the trade being involved, the Knicks signed his younger brother, Jacob, who walked out of Kentucky last season.
Jacob is not playing in the Summer League due to a minor injury.
“I’m so excited for Jacob, so excited that he has the opportunity to be here in the league,” Toppin said of his younger brother. “He has worked very hard for this opportunity. Hopefully, we will be able to come on the court again. [together] When we play them at this level.”