New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin’s frustration seemed to get the best of him on multiple occasions during the 2022-2023 season.
But during the Knicks’ second-round playoff series against the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, Toppin directed his irritation squarely at head coach Tom Thibodeau, according to a report in The Athletic.
Toppin appeared to be upset by Thibodeau’s decision to bench him for the entire second half of Game 4 in Miami, leading to an «intense» verbal altercation.
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According to the report, the alteration «spilled into the [team’s] post-game meeting» in the visitor’s locker room.
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Toppin was not available to speak to the media for the remainder of the series.
In the opening game of the playoff series, Toppin was in the starting lineup in place of an injured Julius Randle. He finished Game 1 with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Toppin came off the bench in Game 4, and his total playing time dropped significantly after Game 1. Thibodeau decided to bench the 25-year-old Knicks forward for the entire second half.
The report noted that Toppin and Thibodeau spoke the day after the game.
The future of the former New York lottery pick remains unclear, as he averaged 14.7 minutes per game in 201 appearances over three seasons with the Knicks.
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There appear to be no long-term consequences or lingering hard feelings from the Toppin-Thibodeau disagreement. But the incident also didn’t do Toppin any favors in terms of him staying in a Knicks uniform.
With the draft and free agency looming, the Knicks will have to figure out quickly if the former NCAA National Player of the Year fits into their future plans.