Knicks’ Obi Toppin could play as early as Friday after G League assignment

Obi Toppin, Tom Thibodeau, Knicks
Apr 8, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau (R) and Knicks forward Obi Toppin (1) look on against the Washington Wizards in the second quarter at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks announced Thursday that they had assigned Obi Toppin to the G League to ramp up his on-court activity for his imminent return.

Toppin practiced with the Westchester Knicks but will fly to Toronto to join his NBA club in time for Friday’s game against the Raptors.

The reigning NBA Slam Dunk champion sat out for the 14th straight game Wednesday night when the Knicks barely beat the San Antonio Spurs, 117-114. Toppin was on the active lineup, but New York coach Tom Thibodeau opted not to play him.

“We’re gonna ramp him up and then he’s gonna play, yeah.”

Tom Thibodeau before the Knicks-Spurs game via SNY

Toppin hadn’t seen action since their Dec. 7 win against the Atlanta Hawks when he sustained a non-displaced right fibula head fracture.

Without Toppin in the lineup, the Knicks have posted a 9-5 record.

Thibodeau will have to decide between Jericho Sims and Isaiah Hartenstein to open up a rotation spot for Toppin.

“When you look at the numbers over the last 15 games — that tells you something, right? The offense, we’re scoring more. We’re giving up a lot less. The rebounding is through the roof. And you look at, OK, how has this impacted Quick? How has it impacted Julius? How has it impacted RJ? And the challenge is to bring the best out of the team.

Whatever brings the best out of the team, that’s what we have to do. And oftentimes, there are difficult decisions that have to be made. So, we have good players and some players have had to sacrifice not being in the rotation and then just stay ready. Things are always changing in this league.”

Tom Thibodeau before the Knicks-Spurs game via SNY

Sims and Hartenstein are better rebounders than Toppin and provide rim protection. But Toppin is the best floor spacer among the three big men.

Sims averaged 2.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 11.5 minutes off the bench during Toppin’s absence. On the other hand, Hartenstein posted 4.1 points and 5.5 rebounds in 17.0 minutes during that stretch.

Toppin averaged 7.7 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 35.1 percent from the three-point line in 17.1 minutes off the bench before the injury.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo