It was quite a season for Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley. The first dozen games were a misery, as Quickley averaged just 7.5 points in 21.2 minutes, shooting 34.8% from the field and 28.3% from the 3-point line. It was ugly, and by mid-November, The Athletic was reporting that Quickley was very much on the trading block.
From there, though, Quickley took off, earning an increased role off the bench and showing himself to be one of the most valuable members of a crowded New York backcourt. In the 25 games after the All-Star break, Quickley averaged 21.0 points on 46.6% shooting and 40.1% 3-point shooting. He added 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
By the trade deadline, Quickley was off the table in talks with other teams. But the Knicks’ guard situation is getting increasingly crowded, and moving Quickley could prove to be a necessity for New York, because that crowd is also getting increasingly more expensive. Quickley is eligible for an extension on his rookie deal this offseason.
Is there a simple way out that could be ideal for both Quickley and the team?
Why, yes, said one front-office executive. “The Raptors would be a really good fit for (Quickley),” the exec said. “And the Knicks would be a really good fit for (OG) Anunoby. He’s just a monster defender. Things have been pretty quiet in Toronto but there is still a feeling that they’re going to make another move here after what happened with Fred. Maybe they will stick with what they have but that roster is missing a lot.
“But I think there are a lot of questions for teams who are not sure they want to pay Quickley what he wants.”
Raptors Left With a Hole After VanVleet Departure
Fred is, of course, starting point guard Fred VanVleet, who left for the big money he was offered in Houston, a three-year, $130 million deal (with a team option on Year 3) that the Raptors just could not match. And OG Anunoby is the kind of long, top-tier defensive wing that the Knicks badly need.
The Raptors have a trio of forwards—Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes—who all need starting roles and big minutes, when healthy. Moving one of them, and Anunoby makes the most sense on that front, could help the Raps relieve their logjam and create more opportunity for Barnes, who many feel is primed for a breakout season after a so-so sophomore campaign.
And, in replacing VanVleet, the Raptors took a step back by adding journeyman point guard Dennis Schroder to be the starter. Backup Malachi Flynn has looked overmatched for much of his three-year NBA career, and acquiring a frontline point guard should be a top priority for the Raps.
Quickley-Fournier Package Enough for Anunoby?
Quickley has shown he can fit that bill. After two subpar seasons after he was drafted out of Kentucky, Quickley put together his talents last year, and showed he could be a No. 1 point guard on a good roster.
“You know, he is not a great passer, he is not going to be a superb playmaker, but he is good and he’s a good rebounder,” the executive said. “He can play with speed, he is fast and he forces the rest of the team to play fast. That’s such an advantage when it is your guy pushing the action. And he shot the ball consistently all last season. That’s probably the biggest question on him, the shooting, but he is answering that.”
Quickley remains on his rookie contract, and could sign an extension before the start of the season. If he does, he will become very difficult to trade—players on their rookie deals with major raises looming the following year require special rules to be traded.
It would behoove the Knicks to move him before he hits the rookie extension wall, something that could be done by putting Evan Fournier’s expiring contract with Quickley, and possibly adding a first-round pick.
That would be a good package for Anunoby. More important for the New Yorkers, it would be a very useful package for the Knicks.