Grimes’ pathway to get there is more straightforward than Toppin, Leon Rose’s first lottery pick.
Despite Toppin’s tremendous improvement with his outside shot — he’s hitting 40 percent of his 4.2 3-point attempts, both career highs — leading to 10.1 points with 3.9 rebounds per game average, he’s still capped below 20 minutes of playing time (17.8) as long as Julius Randle remains in New York.
If the Knicks’ season continues to spiral after an uneven start, will they entertain moving Randle to start a true rebuild?
According to the latest trade rumor, one of the Knicks’ fiercest rivals in the East has emerged as a potential landing spot for Randle, who is in the first year of a $117 million four-year deal.
“The Knicks would not trade him just for cap space, just because he got the big contract. Remember he is a CAA guy, and CAA is Leon (Rose’s) old agency. But sending him back to the Lakers would be something both sides would probably welcome. But what are the Lakers going to give back, Russ (Westbrook)? The Knicks don’t see Randle as that much of a problem that they need to dump him. If the Lakers included one of their picks (2027 or 2029 first-rounders), that would change the Knicks’ thinking but it is hard to see the Lakers doing that.
Miami is probably the big team that will be looking for a power forward and he would at least be interesting there with Bam (Adebayo) and Jimmy Butler. They’d have to make up for him on the defensive end, but they are good at scheming that way and they’ve been really bad on the offensive end. The Knicks would have to take back (Duncan) Robinson and a couple of their young guys like (Omer) Yurtseven and (Nikola Jovic), something like that. The Knicks would have to trust Obi (Toppin) to take that spot, too. You could make it work but it might not be the best thing for either side, really.”NBA Executive told Sean Deveney via Heavy Sports
A Randle trade would clear Toppin’s runway to become one of the league’s most exciting young stars.
This season, Toppin’s plus-3.6 on/off differential is far superior to Randle’s minus-8.0, per Cleaning The Glass. But Randle faced opposing starting lineups night in and night out.
However, there’s an argument to be made that Toppin, based on the small sample size last season, can make the Knicks better in the long term. The high-flying Toppin averaged 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 46.3 percent from 3 in 10 games without Randle. He was a plus-47 over that stretch.
The Knicks are in a bind as they continue to be a mediocre team after tying up over $400-plus million in salaries to Randle, RJ Barrett, Jalen Brunson, and Mitchell Robinson.
They would need to pay Toppin either next summer or in 2024.
At some point, the Knicks would have to cut their losses. And sometimes, addition by subtraction is the best thing to do.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo