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How The OG Anunoby Deal Has Shaped The NBA Trade Market | TheSportsDay How The OG Anunoby Deal Has Shaped The NBA Trade Market | TheSportsDay

How the OG Anunoby deal has shaped the NBA trade market

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The benefits of New York adding OG Anunoby were on full display Monday, from the opening minutes of the Knicks’ 112-106 win over Minnesota. He’s long drawn praise for a rare ability to actually guard all five positions at 6-foot-7. “One of the most impactful, versatile defenders in the league,” said Wolves head coach Chris Finch, who overlapped with Anunoby in Toronto as an assistant. “I’ve seen him guard Damian Lillard one night, Joel Embiid the next.” Sure enough, Anunoby began that New Year’s Day clash flanking Anthony Edwards before blocking a lob effort to Rudy Gobert, and then spending possessions bothering Karl-Anthony Towns.

For all his length, Anunoby was characteristically brief during his introductory news conference before the game. He said he was excited to learn New York traded for him once he was phoned by Raptors president Masai Ujiri last Saturday, but he offered nothing further about long-term interest in his new franchise. Anunoby is expected to decline his $19.9 million player option for 2024-25 to reach unrestricted free agency and told reporters further contract conversations would be left to his representation, CAA, which, with the agency’s deep ties throughout Madison Square Garden, has left plenty of expectation among NBA personnel that Anunoby will be finding some agreement far above the four-year, $118 million extension Anunoby was limited to signing but would not have accepted with the Raptors, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

New York surely has plans to keep searching for upgrades around blooming All-Star candidate Jalen Brunson, who was sixth in the Eastern Conference backcourt voting totals Thursday and a strong possibility to earn a reserve selection from coaches. Sacrificing Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett to obtain Anunoby did sap New York’s proven playmaking behind Brunson, leaving the Knicks as potential buyers for reserve ball-handlers with four weeks left until the trade deadline. New York made outgoing calls on veteran big men after losing Mitchell Robinson to an ankle injury, sources said, but the addition of Precious Achiuwa, alongside Anunoboy, has rival executives preparing for the Knicks to explore backcourt options as Miles McBride receives extended minutes.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 1: OG Anunoby #8 of the New York Knicks dunks the ball against Jaden McDaniels #3 of the Minnesota Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden on January 1, 2024 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Timberwolves 112-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 1: OG Anunoby #8 of the New York Knicks dunks the ball against Jaden McDaniels #3 of the Minnesota Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden on January 1, 2024 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Timberwolves 112-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

OG Anunoby has had a nice start with the Knicks, and his acquisition by New York has changed the calculus for how teams might handle the trade deadline. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

They have enough draft capital and wiggle room with Evan Fournier’s contract to explore a wide range of names, from former Tom Thibodeau favorite Alec Burks in Detroit to the sturdy Malcolm Brogdon in Portland. The premier point guard on the market before the Feb. 8 trade deadline may be Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray, a former All-Star whom the Hawks have made widely available, according to league sources, two years after trading three first-round picks to acquire Murray from San Antonio.

There are questions, to be sure, about whether Murray’s fit would be ideal next to another ball dominant lead like Brunson, as Murray’s pairing with Hawks All-Star Trae Young hasn’t brought the dividends Atlanta once imagined. Yet Murray’s four-year, $114 million extension that begins in 2024-25 does make him an intriguing trade target for any team with backcourt questions. We’ll see just how preemptively front offices move this winter before harsher tax penalties kick into effect next season as part of the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement. Future picks and value contracts such as Murray’s might become greater trade commodities than league personnel anticipated.

The Hawks are certainly open for business, with plenty of long-term deals to be moved. Of late, Atlanta has informed numerous teams the only untouchable players on the Hawks’ roster are Young and rising third-year forward Jalen Johnson, sources said. Just watch Johnson’s behind-the-back dribble and flush in transition against Oklahoma City on Wednesday, or his pacing, passing and shooting ability at his size, and you’ll understand why Hawks figures are so bullish on the 22-year-old’s upside at a broad and bouncy 6-9.

Atlanta owes its 2025 first-round selection to San Antonio as part of the haul that landed Murray, so there’s plenty of sense for the Hawks, currently 14-19, to weigh selling some of its veteran contributors, incorporating a lottery pick alongside Young and Johnson, then stepping back toward Atlanta’s bigger goal of competing in the playoffs under head coach Quin Snyder next season. Atlanta has been one of the more active teams on the phones across the league, sources said. And that seller’s path becoming more likely has league personnel no longer considering the Hawks as a prominent potential landing spot for Toronto’s other trade-deadline darling, Pascal Siakam, now that the Raptors ultimately moved on from Anunoby.

Atlanta was once considered the most aggressive suitor for Siakam’s services, holding serious conversations with Toronto last offseason, sources said. But the chatter among NBA executives surrounding Siakam’s potential landing spots has now centered on Indiana, Sacramento and Detroit. Yes, the Pistons keep signaling to opposing executives an interest in buying, sources said, instead of selling off veterans from the league’s lowest team. Other teams mentioned, such as Dallas and Philadelphia, don’t appear as viable destinations at this juncture, although Toronto officials have suggested to inquiring front offices as many as 10 teams hold legitimate interest in Siakam, sources said.

As evidenced by the Raptors’ return for Anunoby, and how Toronto dismissed offers of multiple first-rounders for Anunoby during previous transaction cycles, the Raptors are prioritizing young, established players with upside to slot next to Scottie Barnes, as opposed to a bounty of draft capital, sources said. Toronto continues to value retooling toward a competitive club and not leaning into any type of rebuild.

In comparison to Quickley and Barrett, Philadelphia doesn’t roster anyone who fits that bill to help land Siakam. Dallas has long rebuffed inquiries for Josh Green, sources said, fresh off a 3-year, $41 million extension that begins in 2024-25.

The Kings have been calling opposing front offices to gauge the value of packaging Harrison Barnes and Kevin Huerter, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Not exactly the youthful tandem that came back from New York, and Sacramento won’t consider moving sophomore sharpshooter Keegan Murray, sources said. But Sacramento has third-year guard Davion Mitchell available for trade, and the Kings hold future picks beyond this year’s first rounder owed to Atlanta to help facilitate any deal before next month’s deadline. Huerter, it should be noted, was recently moved to Mike Brown’s bench in exchange for Chris Duarte.

There’s a chance Sacramento makes the best real offer for Siakam in the end. With just half a season before the 29-year-old All-Star talent can reach unrestricted free agency, Siakam has shot 41.6% from distance over his last 15 games, a critical element of his production for whichever team does invest future money in him. With his shot falling, he bills as an All-NBA talent capable of fitting across multiple lineups. Yet with the clock ticking ever closer to when Siakam can reach the open market, any team with interest will have to understand his willingness to re-sign this summer. Plus several clubs that project to have significant cap space, such as Detroit and Indiana, could simply opt to test their fate of landing Siakam in free agency, rather than send any rookie-scale player north of the border. That will be a tricky dance for Toronto to navigate, or risk losing another franchise stalwart for nothing like it did with Fred VanVleet this past July.

If the Pacers do come away with Siakam, it will come after Indiana came just shy of landing Anunoby, sources said. Indiana made a strong push until the end of Toronto’s talks with New York to bring the Hoosiers product to Gainbridge Fieldhouse, although it’s unclear what sticking points prevented the Pacers and Raptors from getting over the finish line. Even though Indiana selected versatile forward Jarace Walker in last June’s lottery, the Pacers continue to consider upgrades at the four spot, sources said, as they have for several seasons.

Perhaps Kyle Kuzma could be one answer, although he would not bring the defensive reinforcements that Indiana seems to be prioritizing. The Wizards have informed rival teams they’re open to trading veterans in search of future draft assets for Washington’s rebuild, sources said. Early impressions are the Wizards hope to receive multiple first-round picks for Kuzma, with the goal of receiving maximum draft capital for other players down their roster as well.

The market for Bulls All-Star guard Zach LaVine still has been quiet, as interested teams remain reluctant to absorb the four seasons and roughly $180 million remaining on his contract. LaVine is trending toward a return Friday from a weeks-long absence due to right foot inflammation. Perhaps a strong return to play, with the defensive effort he once showed for Team USA that intrigued NBA evaluators, could add some momentum for a LaVine deal. The struggling Lakers do forecast as the most sensible landing spot for the 28-year-old former All-Star, even though Los Angeles, too, has so far indicated a hesitancy to take on LaVine’s money, sources said.

In Boston, rival executives are prepared for the Celtics to explore bench upgrades and depth additions behind arguably the league’s best “top six.” Boston is expected to keep reserve center Luke Kornet, who has many fans among Celtics staffers, past his upcoming guarantee date of Jan. 10, sources said. The other non-guaranteed veteran players on the Celtics all hold the likelihood of remaining in Boston for the foreseeable future as well, if only as a valuable roster spot and tradeable salary for the Celtics to play with, in addition to a $6.25 million trade exception.

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