Knicks’ Obi Toppin still not cleared to practice after nine games out

Stefan Bondy, New York Daily News

Obi Toppin has been out for 18 days and counting. At this point, the emphasis is on counting.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said the hyped rookie is “progressing” but has not yet been cleared for contact.

Toppin strained his calf while running drills in training camp, aggravated it in the season opener, and hasn’t played in the last nine games, including Sunday’s matinee against the Nuggets.

“Right now it’s 1-on-0, with some movement, jumping, change of direction and that sort’ve thing,” Thibodeau said. “Then he’ll progress to 2-on-2, 3-on-3, and get to the point where he can get to 5-on-5 and get through practice.”

Toppin, the eighth overall pick, was first injured while running a sprint-and-shoot drill, according to a source. He still played through preseason and logged 24 minutes in the regular-season opener on Dec. 23 in Indiana, where he scored nine points on 3-of-12 shooting.

Even without injuries, it’s a difficult season for rookies with no combine or Summer League, plus the shortened training camp, preseason and regular season. Toppin, the reigning Naismith College Player of the Year from Dayton, represents the most important roster move thus far by the new regime of Leon Rose and William Wesley.

They used their 25th pick on Immanuel Quickley, who has impressed but produced a 1-for-9 dud in Friday’s loss to OKC.

“One thing you have to keep in mind for a rookie with a short training camp with no summer league and no fall practices and that sort of thing — to come in and all of a sudden you’re in a middle of the season,” Thibodeau said. “There will be some ups and downs but he’ll be fine.”