The Knicks shut down second-year forward Obi Toppin, who reached career heights on Friday, as he enters COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

The New York Knicks announced on Saturday evening that Obi Toppin has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will be out for Sunday’s matinee matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks.

The unfortunate news came right less than 24 hours after Toppin enjoyed a career game against the Toronto Raptors. The second-year forward put together his best game statistically and was a bright spot in Friday’s 90-87 loss, finishing with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Toppin’s most recent performance was another highlight in an improved season for the 6-foot-9 23-year-old.

He comes off the bench in all 26 of New York’s games to date. Toppin is averaging 8.7 points and 3.9 rebounds through 15.9 minutes per game this season. He is shooting 53.0% overall.

He has increased production in nearly every statistical category, after averaging just 4.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in his rookie campaign.

Toppin is the first Knicks player to be ruled out this season due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The team announced before the season that every player is fully vaccinated. According to Newsday‘s Steve Popper, even a vaccinated player can enter health and safety protocols after returning a positive or inconclusive test.

With Toppin out, it is likely head coach Tom Thibodeau will turn to veteran Taj Gibson for big man minutes off the bench.

Gibson has appeared in 12 games this season, starting once, and is averaging 3.1 points and 4.7 points per game. He didn’t play in the loss to Toronto but played in Wednesday’s loss to Indiana. He was scoreless through 18 minutes of action but grabbed four rebounds.

The Knicks enter Sunday’s 12 p.m. ET matchup against the Bucks with a 12-14 record. Milwaukee (17-10) is coming off of a 123-114 win over Houston and has won 11 of its last 13 games.

UPDATE: 9:13 a.m. ET, December 12th.

RJ Barrett is joining Toppin in COVID-19 health and safety protocols, according to the team, and will miss the Bucks game, too:


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