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Knicks notes on Zion Williamson, Kristaps Porzingis, Obi Toppin

Tons of rumors, tons of talk, tons of reports!

Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Tons of reports and quotes coming off the weekend and already into a packed-full-of-games week for your New York Knicks, so let’s recap all of the information chronologically as it popped up in the last few days and hours.

Zion Williamson, frustrated in New Orleans?

Well, well, well...

Just a couple of weeks ago we touched on an exchange between two former NBA greats and Boston Celtics legends, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, discussing potential trade targets of the New York Knicks in an episode of KG’s podcast.

One of those players, as Pierce sees it, could be Pelicans forward and RJ Barrett classmate Zion Williamson.

Turns out Zion might have let slip his discontent with the Pelicans last weekend while addressing the media.

Zion was asked about the changes in New Orleans’ offense between last and this year, to which he replied, “We had a team meeting, and we brought up some things that I could do better, especially like with buying into the program.”

Williamson acknowledged, “It’s tough right now, but I’m taking a little backseat and I’m trusting the process,” before adding “I’m trying my best to buy in right now.”

Take that how you want, but Zion might be starting to get a bit tired of playing (when available) for a team that has won 143 games since he joined the organization while dropping 175 in that same span. The winning percentage sits at 44.9% overall, and 49.1% in games in which Zion played at least one minute.

“If things flame out on New Orleans this year, or [Zion] gets hurt again, or they don’t make the playoffs... just something doesn’t go right,” Pierce reasoned in that podcast episode, “you gotta explore [a trade].”

How about the Pelicans starting the season 4-6, losing CJ McCollum (lung), Herb Jones (leg), Jose Alvarado (ankle), Larry Nance Jr. (rib), and Trey Murphy (knee) to different injuries, and featuring a struggling Williamson who is shooting just 51.5% from the field?

Will all of that along with Zion’s comments and struggles force New Orleans into at least considering a trade in the next few weeks and months? Who knows!?

Obi Toppin, eyeing Indiana for more than a year?

Rob Mahoney of The Ringer published an extraordinary profile on Indiana Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton on Nov. 13. Don’t be intimidated by the length and just read it, seriously. It’s well worth the time.

If you have followed our work here at P&T you know we’re bona fide No. 1 Obi Toppin stans (aye!) [editor’s note: not all of us...], so I couldn’t help but notice Obi’s name smacked right in the middle of Mahoney’s story. The insight he shared and the information he revealed is quite interesting.

“Obi Toppin, leak-out artist extraordinaire, has predictably become one of Haliburton’s favorite targets,” Mahoney wrote as he discussed Haliburton’s style heavily, which is based on quick plays, agility, speed, and speedy transitions.

According to Mahoney, Toppin “had been eyeing the Pacers for more than a year, and strategizing with his agent about how he might be able to get to Indiana.”

The Knicks ended up trading Toppin to the Pacers on July 7 in exchange for two future second-round picks.

“A trade granted his wish,” wrote Mahoney. “It was a perfect opportunity for the Pacers to supercharge their frontcourt with one of the league’s most sensational open-floor talents.”

Toppin is quoted in the story dropping a subtle dig at how the New York Knicks used him, which was quite obvious even if you didn’t pay much attention to his time on the court while clad in Orange and Blue threads.

“When you’re in the mix, you feel like you’re involved,” Toppin told Mahoney. “It feels like they need you out there offensively and defensively—you’re not just sitting there in the corner, waiting for a shot.”

Pacers GM Chad Buchanan is also quoted in Mahoney’s story, saying, “We’re trying to get Obi there,” about developing the former Knicks wing as a player who both “plays fast and defends hard.”

Finally, Haliburton is quoted as saying, “[Toppin’s] contract is up after the year, and me and Obi are really close—we’ve been close since predraft. [Ed.: the Knicks drafted Toppin with the 8th pick in 2020, Haliburton went 12th to Sacramento and was then traded to Indiana last year.] We have the same marketing agent—we’re cool.

“I’m trying to boost his career. I want to help him right now. How can I help him eat?”

This season, Toppin has played and started all 10 Pacers games, averaging 9.5 points, three rebounds, 0.5 assists, and 21.3 minutes per game.

Kristaps Porzingis, happy with a second-fiddle role?

We’re barely two weeks into the regular season yet the Boston Celtics and new C’s big man Kristaps Porzingis have already beaten the Knicks twice (on opening night and yesterday) in as many games played between both franchises.

Perhaps that has made it easier for Porzingis to talk about his past with the Knicks, his statements coming from an elevated position these days that he didn’t enjoy throughout his tenure in Dallas.

Speaking after Monday’s 114-98 victory at TD Garden, Porzingis said the narrative about him wanting to be the “face of the franchise” in New York, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Post, was “falsely pushed.”

According to Porzingis, “Today’s league is—other than Jokic and Embiid—a guard league.” That, to him, meant that “I knew that if I want to win, [I’m] going to have to play with somebody.”

The statement, again, came from the question of whether or not he forced the Knicks to make some decisions back in the day, such as turning him into the clear-cut honcho of the franchise, and as Bondy also reports, being “against the Knicks signing Kevin Durant,” for that to happen.

“[Playing with another superstar] was never an issue for me,” Porzingis said. “I think it was never an issue for me, it was always this narrative that was out there that—I think some of you guys that know me closer know how I am.”

All of that said, Porzingins conceded that “when you’re younger, you’re a bit more cocky and arrogant. It’s just natural.

“You mature and get older and you understand things better. I never had a big issue at all.”