The Knicks didn’t surprise us with a last-minute trade into the draft but they did sign Jacob Toppin and Jaylen Martin to two-way contracts.
The New York Knicks, after anticipating having some draft capital thanks to the 2023 protected pick they owned from the Dallas Mavericks, had no picks headed into the night of joy for so many young prospects about to embark on their NBA journeys.
However, they made two signings late last night, both on two-way contracts: the University of Kentucky’s Jacob Toppin and Overtime Elite’s Jaylen Martin.
Toppin, the younger brother of Obi Toppin, is a departing senior from U of K leaving after averaging 12.4 points per game, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists on 46.3 percent shooting this past season. He is a forward just like his brother, and both have a propensity for acrobatic dunks. The Knicks had not worked Toppin out prior to the draft, but it seems they had more than enough intel on his fit with the team and alongside his brother to make the move.
Their second signing, Martin, hails from the YNG Dreamerz team in Overtime Elite. This past season, the guard averaged 14 points per game, 1.4 assists, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals. He also finished up second in the Most Improved Player voting in OE, according to their website. The Knicks also had not worked out the 6’6 wing, but Begley reported that he formerly played for Charlie Ward at Florida High.
This now complicates things with two players they currently have on two-way contracts – Duane Washington Jr. and Trevor Keels, their lone draft pick from last season. No reports have come out about who they plan on keeping as their third two-way, but a decision has to be made prior to the start of next season.
The youth movement in the Knicks’ G-League Westchester Knicks continues, with the “minor league” team having already seen much of Deuce McBride and Jericho Sims prior to them landing a slightly more permanent spot in the Knicks’ rotation. Both were stellar in their team with the G-League affiliate. McBride averaged 24.3 points per game along with five boards and nine assists there last year, while Sims went for 15.7 points per game, 13 boards, and 2.3 assists. We can assume New York hopes that Toppin and Martin find similar footing while away from the team and honing in on their craft in Westchester.
Ultimately, the Knicks remained out of the draft, never attempting to draft into the second round. It feels like, perhaps because they knew Jacob Toppin would be getting brought on, they did not ned up trying to move Obi Toppin for a second-rounder. They still managed to sign two athletic pieces in the younger Toppin and Martin, and free agency still lies ahead for the team.