The Indiana Pacers are completing a deal with the New York Knicks to acquire forward Obi Toppin, a league source confirmed to Fieldhouse Files.
Toppin, a 6-foot-9 forward, has been a target of the franchise since the trade deadline because of the fit and how he fills an obvious need.
News of this deal was first reported by Woj, who reports that the Pacers are sending out two future second-round picks. The Pacers acquired a handful of them over the last five months, first at the trade deadline and then with the draft, including two from the Wizards to simply move back from No. 7 to 8.
It happened right when local reporters were exiting the St. Vincent Center for the first practice of rookie/free-agent camp. This helps ease the pressure and lighten the load for rookie Jarace Walker, who could potentially get the Mathurin treatment coming off the bench.
Toppin spent the last three seasons with the Knicks in a limited role off the bench where he averaged 7.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. A move to the Pacers represents a fresh start, real opportunity because of the team’s lack of size on the wing and an incredible lob threat that already has Tyrese Haliburton drooling.
Toppin was also the Slam Dunk Champion in 2022.
Haliburton and Toppin are both represented by CAA.
Here’s perspective passed along by my friend Fred Katz, who covers the Knicks for The Athletic.
It was time for both sides to move on. The Knicks drafted Toppin No. 8 three years ago, but the 25-year-old never received a big role once Julius Randle broke out during his rookie year. Head coach Tom Thibodeau’s ethos is rim protection, and pairing both Randle and Toppin together in the frontcourt meant leaving the paint too vulnerable. So Toppin’s game-changing energy was relegated to the bench for 30-plus minutes a night, even if he did show off flashes — such as at the end of 2021-22, when he averaged 27.2 points over the final five games of the season.
Toppin is an energy ball. He’s one of the new off-ball forwards who can change the pace of a game with his mere presence. Normally, that trait is reserved for players who handle the rock. He is a master in transition and a lob maestro.
He’s a quick-twitch and quick decision-making forward. The Knicks liked using him in dribble handoffs and he’s good for a back cut whenever he notices his defender falling asleep. But his shooting is inconsistent and his defense held him back under Thibodeau, who would pull him from games if he was getting too lost and giving up easy shots as a result.
The Pacers played the Knicks twice over the final three games last season. Toppin finished with 34-7-5 and 32-3-6 when playing meaningful minutes. That’s the player the Pacers hope they’re getting.
He was drafted eighth overall by the Knicks in 2020. And so he’ll become the fifth member of that draft class acquired by the Pacers — and the fourth different lottery selection.
8: Toppin (New York)10: Jalen Smith (Phoenix) 12: Haliburton (Sacramento) 14: Aaron Nesmith (Boston) 45: Jordan Nwora (Milwaukee)
Toppin shot 68.4% inside five feet and 37.5% outside 20 feet. He’s entering the final year of his rookie contract so he is eligible for a contract extension. But this can be a one-year trial for the Pacers and go from there.
Scott Agness is in his 11th season as a beat writer covering the Indiana Pacers. Click here to read more of his work at FieldhouseFiles.com.
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