Obi Toppin could rejoin Knicks soon; new memo allows more replacements

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The New York Knicks were barely above the minimum requirement of eight active players in their 114-107 loss to the Boston Celtics last Saturday.

Tyler Hall, who joined them in Boston from their G League affiliate, was the ninth active player on the roster though Tom Thibodeau opted to stick with an eight-man rotation.

The Knicks can now add more players without their salaries counting against their salary cap based on the new agreement between the NBA and NBA and National Basketball Players Association, according to an ESPN report.

The Knicks have six players in the health and safety protocols: Obi Toppin, RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes, Kevin Knox, Immanuel Quickley, and Miles McBride.

Toppin, their first player who tested positive, should clear the 10-day quarantine period Monday. The Knicks will host the Detroit Pistons Tuesday.

Toppin could be cleared to rejoin the team immediately if he showed little to no symptoms. He must pass a cardiac screening before getting clearance to resume activity. It would take longer if he had moderate symptoms (minimum of two days after clearing isolation) and severe symptoms (minimum of three days after clearing isolation).

If Toppin rejoins the team and Derrick Rose returns from an ankle injury, that will push the Knicks’ active roster to 11. But the new memo would still require them to sign at least two more additional players.

Teams will have to sign at least one replacement player if they have two positive COVID-19 cases; at least two if they have three positive COVID-19 cases; and at least three if they have four or more COVID-19 cases, per the ESPN report.

Furthermore, the NBA and NBPA have scrapped the 50-game limit for two-way players, meaning Jericho Sims and Luka Samanic could join all the Knicks’ games until the end of the regular season.

But with their trio of veteran big men — Nerlens Noel, Mitchell Robinson, and Taj Gibson — all healthy, the Knicks would likely let Sims get more reps in the ongoing G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Samanic is still out with a foot injury.

Barrett should clear his 10-day quarantine period on Wednesday, increasing his chances to return for the Christmas game against Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks will also host the Washington Wizards on Thursday after Barrett could clear the 10-day quarantine.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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