With the NBA trade deadline a little over a month away talks pertaining to what the New York Knicks should consider doing are only guaranteed to ramp up, as many have reported that they are currently one of the most active clubs on the trade market.
With this, the team has been found linked to countless rumors regarding moves Leon Rose and company could hypothetically look to execute to better bolster the team’s talent pool and, in a January 5 post by Bleacher Report, one oft-mentioned target for the franchise was seen once again being listed as a must-get talent.
According to writer Zach Buckley, Toronto Raptors fifth-year wing OG Anunoby is a player that, if placed on the trade block, the Knicks should be willing to give up a hefty sum of assets in an effort to acquire his high-upside, two-way services.
“Picks, prospects and expiring salaries would all be on the board, and with good reason: Anunoby projects as either a two-way star or at least a two-way player who can star in his role,” Buckley wrote.
“Get him to New York, and he’d immediately be the team’s top defender and one of its better offensive options. Coach Tom Thibodeau would give Anunoby all the minutes he could handle in hopes of elevating this defense. The offense, meanwhile, could have plenty of options depending on which of Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett would still be around after the deal.”
Buckley would note that seeing the Raptors shop their 25-year-old rising star this season “isn’t likely,” though suggested that, being he’s playing his way towards a new lucrative pay-raise in just a few seasons (has a player option for 2024-25), the front office may not be willing to shell out the cash needed to retain him and, in turn, could run the risk of losing him for nothing.
With this, he believes that a slim-chance, yet semi-plausible option could be for Masai Ujiri and company to look into flipping Anunoby for cheaper and longer-term assets and, considering their impressive collection of young prospects (Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Cam Reddish, etc.) coupled with their treasure trove of draft capital, the Knicks could be an optimal trade partner.
Anunoby Link to Knicks is Not New
As noted earlier, the idea of the Knicks being a possible trade destination for OG Anunoby is nothing new, as many have gone as far as to construct possible trade scenarios where New York lands the wing, with one Eastern Conference executive telling Heavy Sports’ NBA Insider Sean Deveney one specific hypothetical deal that they believe could make sense for both parties.
New York Knicks receive:
- OG Anunoby
Toronto Raptors receive:
- Obi Toppin
- Immanuel Quickley
- Evan Fournier
- Draft compensation
Despite their highly disappointing, sub-.500 record of 16-22, the executive noted that the Raptors “aren’t there yet” when it comes to the concept of selling off a core talent like Anunoby.
That said, considering their reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes plays virtually the same position, moving the veteran to better fill out the rotation around him, Fred VanVleet, and Pascal Siakam while also bolstering their draft stock in the process could, in theory, prove to be a beneficial course of action for the franchise.
“The strategy has not changed, obviously—the goal is to collect picks and flip them into a deal that brings back a star, a big-time wing player. If Toronto wanted to move off OG Anunoby to make way for Scottie Barnes, the Knicks would be in line for him, you know, with Quickley and Toppin and Fournier plus picks,” the exec told Deveney.
Since coming into the league back in 2017, Anunoby has continuously upped his play in virtually every statistical category and, over the last three seasons, has posted impressive per-game averages of 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and just shy of a block on 46.1% shooting from the floor and 37.2% shooting from deep.
A true two-way wing with an exceptional nose for the defensive side of the ball, the former first-round pick could prove to be a seamless fit within head coach Tom Thibodeau’s scheme and considering he’s amid a career-best campaign where he’s posting averages of 18.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2.2 steals on 46.6% shooting from the floor, the Knicks could simultaneously find themselves also bringing on a legitimate star in the making moving forward.
Knicks Big Being Shopped?
Though the concept of seeing the Knicks offloading one of their promising young players may be a bit troubling for some fans to comprehend, it is far from being a far-fetched idea.
In fact, recent rumblings suggest that Leon Rose and company have already begun the process of negotiating a trade that would see one, in particular, shipped out of New York.
An anonymous Eastern Conference executive informed Heavy Sports’ NBA Insider Sean Deveney that the Knicks have engaged in talks with the Pacers regarding a potential trade that would send third-year big man Obi Toppin to Indiana which, in the exec’s opinion, could prove to be a tremendous opportunity for the 24-year-old.
“There has been some talk between the Pacers and Knicks about Obi (Toppin). He fits in Indiana, especially if they keep Turner. Obi is a rim-runner, he has some toughness, he has athleticism. He needs minutes and a team that is rebuilding with young talent like Indy is a really good match,” the exec told Deveney.
The executive would continue by stating that the Pacers have extra first-rounders at their disposal which, considering the fact that many already believe the Knicks are stockpiling picks in the hopes of striking an even bigger trade, could bode well for a potential deal to ultimately be executed.