Insider Paints Knicks Trades Massive Wins: ‘We Got Rid of Softies’

RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Knicks

Getty Obi Toppin and RJ Barrett #9 formerly of the New York Knicks react after a call.

The New York Knicks have pulled off a couple of big moves to mold the team according to Tom Thibodeau‘s liking — a hard-nosed defensive team.

First, they traded away Obi Toppin, Leon Rose‘s first lottery pick, to the Indiana Pacers for two second-rounders in a deal that was frowned upon last summer. Then mid-season, they flipped RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley for All-Defensive wing OG Anunoby.

According to Knicks beat reporter, Steve Popper of Newsday, those twin moves allowed the team to solidify their defensive identity.

“One team source pointed out that in moving out Obi Toppin in the summer, then Barrett and Quickley recently, ‘We got rid of the softies.’ The Knicks roster now consists nearly completely of hard-nosed defenders,’ Newsday’s Steve Popper wrote on January 13.

The proof is in the pudding.

The Knicks have been the league’s best defensive team by a mile since the Anunoby trade. They improved to 6-1 with Anunoby following their 106-94 romp of the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies on January 13.

Their 103.5 defensive rating over their last 7 games during this stretch is 6.2 is better than the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Western Conference’s top team and the league’s best defensive team since the season tipped off.

The Knicks also boast the NBA’s best net rating (plus-15.5) during their most dominant stretch in more than a decade.

Knicks Almost Pull Off Double Heist

All along, the Knicks planned to acquire both Dejounte Murray and Anunoby to plug the defensive holes in their backcourt and the wings.

“NBA insiders said the Hawks, in their discussions with the Knicks, talked about a Dejounte Murray trade with Atlanta seeking Immanuel Quickley and a first-round pick,” Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times wrote on January 13.

Had the Toronto Raptors agreed on picks instead of Quickley, the Knicks would have given them a starting 5 of Brunson, Murray, Anonuby, Julius Randle and Isaiah Hartenstein/Mitchell Robinson with Donte DiVincenzo sliding into Quickley’s Sixth Man role.

The Knicks still have a shot at accomplishing their goal but Quickley’s departure lessens their chances at Murray, who is now the most in-demand player on the trade block.

Carmelo Anthony Calls RJ Barrett’s Game ‘Bland’

Former Knicks star Carmelo Anthony was unimpressed with Barrett’s game.

“He’s just a bland player, bro,” Anthony said on the January 12 episode of the “7 PM in Brooklyn” show, Anthony’s digital series show with Kid Mero. “That’s not a shot. That’s not disrespect. I ask a lot of people who are Knicks fans to see what they say, it’s just like, ‘He’s good, he gets it done sometimes, but he’s not an exciting player.’ You don’t know if he’s going to get 4 [points] or 26.”


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