As Obi Toppin nears his return, so does the Obi Toppin Minute Watch.
The third-year forward practiced fully Sunday, coach Tom Thibodeau said, and Toppin was not listed on the Knicks’ injury report. All signs point to Toppin playing Monday in a Garden matchup against the Bucks after missing 15 games with a non-displaced fracture in his right fibula. If Toppin, who has been ramping up in practice recently, plays and slides back into the second unit — “He could,” Thibodeau said — their rotation would be curious.
Since Toppin went down on Dec. 7, the Knicks have won 10 of 15 games with a shortened rotation. Thibodeau has said he wants to stick to playing nine, which would mean Toppin — if he is part of that nine — likely would replace young big man Jericho Sims or veteran center Isaiah Hartenstein.
“I love the depth. And whatever we decide to do, that’s part of sacrificing for the team and putting the team first, and understanding how the team is playing right now also is an important part of it,” Thibodeau said from Tarrytown, when asked about his backup center. “We have a really good group of guys, high character, and you have to put the team first.
“Everyone’s gotta be willing to make sacrifices for the team.”
Toppin, the reigning Slam Dunk champion and 2020 eighth-overall pick, was averaging 7.7 points on 42.1 percent shooting with 3.8 rebounds in about 17 minutes per game before the injury.
In the games since Toppin went down, Sims and Hartenstein have seen an uptick in minutes, neither distinguishing himself.
RJ Barrett (right index finger laceration) is doubtful for Monday after participating in “most of practice,” Thibodeau said. Sunday was the first practice Barrett was mostly active in since receiving six stitches on his finger in Dallas on Dec. 27.
Barrett likely will miss his sixth consecutive game. In his absence, Evan Fournier has re-entered the rotation and Immanuel Quickley has been starting.
Mitchell Robinson, who entered NBA action Sunday as the owner of the second-most offensive rebounds, trailing only Memphis’ Steven Adams, was asked about teams sending waves of players at him to keep him off the glass.
“I feel like I’m a dangerous man,” said Robinson, who grabbed 18 boards (eight on the offensive glass) in Toronto on Friday. “You got to put three guys on me to keep me off the glass. That says a lot. I’m really becoming something.”
Jalen Bruson on Thibodeau’s 100th win as a Knicks coach: “It’s special. He has been so consistent of how he approaches every day and how he approaches every practice, every game. He’s had sustained consistency, repetition, repetition. It’s just special. It’s an honor, obviously, to play for him and after doing it for so long.
“I’m happy for him, but I just know that we can do a lot more. I’m ready for 200.”