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What The OG Anunoby Trade Means For The Knicks And Raptors | TheSportsDay What The OG Anunoby Trade Means For The Knicks And Raptors | TheSportsDay

What the OG Anunoby trade means for the Knicks and Raptors

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The Toronto Raptors have done it, finally parting ways with a franchise pillar before it’s too late. Toronto traded forward O.G. Anunoby to New York on Saturday morning, league sources told Yahoo Sports, in exchange for RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and a 2024 second-round pick. ESPN was first to report the deal, along with the fact reserve center Precious Achiuwa will also be joining the Knicks. The Athletic added that young guard Malachi Flynn will be heading to Madison Square Garden as well.

The move comes one week after team executives flocked to the G League Showcase in Orlando, where one of the few trade rumors, albeit unconfirmed, that emerged was more conversation between Toronto and New York surrounding a deal framework for Anunoby and Barrett. It’s unclear how far conversations between the two franchises went last season, but Barrett’s name was included in negotiations in February, sources said, when the Knicks were attempting to acquire Anunoby before the 2023 trade deadline.

Toronto Raptors' O.G. Anunoby plays during an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)Toronto Raptors' O.G. Anunoby plays during an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Raptors finally trading OG Anunoby could be the first in a line of moves for Toronto. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Toronto, though, held firm, much to the dismay of rival front offices across the league. The Raptors had dangled each of Anunoby, All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet and All-NBA forward Pascal Siakam for weeks in the lead-up to the deadline, sources said, only for Toronto to send a protected first-rounder out the door and obtain center Jakob Poeltl instead. Then, the Raptors watched VanVleet walk to Houston in free agency and net nothing in return. And when the Raptors began this 2023-24 campaign far below preseason expectations — currently standing 12-19, good for 12th in the Eastern Conference — executives began to pinpoint Toronto as a main actor for this year’s trade activity yet again, as potential sellers of Anunoby, Siakam and veteran wing Gary Trent Jr.

But the timing of the Anunoby deal was certainly a surprise to many team decision-makers around the NBA. The league expected Toronto to hold for its best possible offer much closer to the deadline. When word began to filter among front offices on Saturday that the Knicks were getting close to a trade, many were under the assumption that New York was simply finding a small maneuver to help plug the void left by starting center Mitchell Robinson, who remains sidelined with an ankle injury that’s expected to keep him out for the remainder of the season. Anunoby is a much bigger swing, yet the outgoing price the Knicks paid seems to have left a general consensus among league personnel that New York acquired the coveted two-way swingman for a modest cost, especially without sending any of the first-round draft capital the Knicks have been so focused on retaining to spend on a marquee acquisition down the line.

The inclusion of Quickley, a jitterbug combo guard in the final year of his rookie contract, does make for an intriguing package to kick off the NBA’s trade window — even if the Raptors didn’t receive the bounty of first-round picks that they were telling teams it would require to part with Anunoby in previous transaction cycles. The Knicks gauged Quickley’s value this time last season, a league source told Yahoo Sports, only to retain the 24-year-old Sixth Man of the Year finalist. His name had been virtually absent from the early trade winds this winter, but after Quickley’s rookie extension conversations stalled in the fall, it’s not exactly a surprise to see New York part with a player who wanted roughly $7 million more in average annual salary than the Knicks were offering, sources said, and Quickley has seen his playing time drop from 28.9 minutes per game last season to just 24 so far in ’23-24.

The Raptors, to their credit, had maintained messaging to opposing teams that they weren’t necessarily looking to move any of their veteran pieces and begin a full-scale rebuild. This team believes it has a bona fide franchise cornerstone in Scottie Barnes, the 22-year-old forward whom Toronto made untouchable in trade conversations dating back to when the Raptors explored acquiring Kevin Durant before the 2022-23 campaign. And Barnes will become quite expensive once his own rookie contract expires after next season. Barrett, too, is under contract for another three-plus seasons at roughly $30 million in average annual value. Toronto has to be aware of Quickley’s preferred salary range of $25 million as well. The Raptors don’t project as an inexpensive teardown in the slightest.

League personnel are certainly prepared for a Siakam trade to follow suit. Before this weekend’s deal, Siakam was the Toronto veteran whom rival executives were pegging as the most likely Raptor to be dealt, particularly after the team nearly sent Siakam to the Atlanta Hawks this summer, league sources told Yahoo Sports. He is under an expiring contract after his own extension talks fell short of a deal this fall. In addition to Atlanta, the Kings and Pacers have been routinely mentioned by NBA figures as potential suitors for Siakam.

What’s next for New York? The Knicks didn’t land Anunoby without an understanding of his own financial considerations. Anunoby held meetings with several agencies this past offseason when he decided to leave Klutch Sports, telling potential representation he was interested in a larger offensive role that would be commensurate with a salary figure in the ballpark of $40 million in average annual value, league sources told Yahoo Sports. However, Anunoby did leave those potential agents with the impression he would be willing to accept a smaller figure if he were to have landed in New York, sources said. And it’s relevant to note the Indiana product did ultimately sign with CAA, which has deep connections to New York leadership.

Anunoby bills as an ideal fit behind the lead ball-handling of All-Star candidate Jalen Brunson and the isolation scoring of Julius Randle. A large part of New York’s calculus to land Brunson in free agency two summers ago was to bring a sturdy point guard who could help attract high-billing talent to one day join him in Manhattan. Anunoby stands as another supporting actor that will raise the Knicks’ floor while the front office continues searching and waiting for the opportunity to pounce on a legitimate superstar and raise New York’s ultimate ceiling.

But for now, Anunoby marks another target this Knicks regime was successful in identifying and landing. This trade helps clear the logjam in head coach Tom Thibodeau’s backcourt and wing rotation that was leaving Quickley underutilized. And Achiuwa should provide necessary minutes in the frontcourt to help spell Isaiah Hartenstein in Robinson’s absence.

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