On Saturday, the Knicks and Toronto Raptors achieved the first significant trade of the 2023-24 season, with New York acquiring OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn in exchange for RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and a Pistons 2024 second-round pick. All the usual media suspects had much to say about the transaction.
Michael Scotto covered the deal at Hoopshype. He points out that Anunoby is represented by CAA agents tied to Knicks President Leon Rose (including Sam Rose, Leon’s son) and provides the Knicks with a much-needed two-way wing defender. Also noteworthy: Sam Rose represents Jalen Brunson.
While some have cautioned that the Knicks surrendered too much in the trade, New York still had potential to make more moves, particularly to add another creator or scoring player. From Scotto’s piece:
“My initial reaction was the Knicks overpaid because of the hypothetical value you could maybe get for Quickley on paper in a separate deal,” an NBA executive told HoopsHype. “But the Knicks are in a good place to use Julius Randle and picks to make another big move, so that justifies them giving up two of their scoring options. Anunoby’s health is also a factor that’ll help determine how this trade ages.”
Health, you ask? Due to various injuries, OG has played in 368 of a possible 492 regular season games, or about 75%.
As for the other two incoming players, Achiuwa adds frontcourt depth and Flynn offers ball-handling support. The trade streamlines the guard rotation, creating opportunities for Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart, Quentin Grimes, and Deuce McBride. (Congrats to Deuce for the contract extension, btw.)
The trade still leaves the Knicks holding up to eight tradeable first-round picks and Evan Fournier’s expiring contract. Grimes, in particular, still draws interest from other teams and could be on the move before the February trade deadline.
The Athletic assembled Shams Charania, Fred Katz, and Eric Koreen for their thoughts on the trade.
As the article observes, Anunoby has played seven seasons in Toronto and is averaging 15.1 points and 3.9 rebounds. Those are his lowest totals since the 2019-20 campaign. Barrett, the No. 3 pick in 2019, averages 18.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists, while Quickley posts 15 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists.
The Raptors were reportedly offered multiple first-round picks by multiple teams for Anunoby last season before the trade deadline when they surprised many by adding to instead of subtracting from their roster. This move gives them two proven rotation players for a good team. Barrett comes home and should slide into Anunoby’s starting forward spot. […]
But this likely isn’t the last move for Toronto. Quickley is arguably the bigger get for the Raptors. After the season, he is a restricted free agent and will be due a big raise. However, the Raptors have no depth at guard and a combo guard who is proficient from 3 — Quickley is shooting 39.5 percent this season — is perfect next to Barnes, who is transitioning into the team’s lead ballhandler.
A legal dispute is ongoing between the Raptors and Knicks, stemming from a lawsuit filed in August regarding alleged theft of proprietary information by a former employee. Due to the circumstances, many Knicks fans doubted that a trade agreement could be reached between the two clubs. But business is business, as my cousin used to say.
The Raptors’ decision to trade Anunoby was influenced by their 12-19 record and the likelihood of him re-signing elsewhere as a free agent next summer. Quickley will be a free agent, too, but of the restricted variety.
Anunoby is considered an ideal fit for the Knicks, providing support to Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle while waiting for a superstar to hit the market. Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks have long sought a big wing, and Anunoby fulfills this need, offering strength and 3-point shooting. Anunoby–last season’s steals champ, who has received All-Defense honors–will shore up the holes in point guard Jalen Brunson’s otherwise mostly impeccable game.
Jake Fischer at Yahoo Sports weighed in. He noted that the unexpected timing of the trade surprised many in the NBA, but he added that the deal may have been ironed out at the recent G-League Showcase:
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.
According to Fischer, the Raptors have maintained that they do not necessarily intend to rebuild and see Scottie Barnes as a franchise cornerstone going forward. League personnel anticipate the next trade to involve Pascal Siakam, who was previously considered the most likely Raptor to be dealt.
Even the players involved seemed to have been caught by surprise. From Immanuel Quickley’s X account:
Oh my goodness….— Immanuel Jaylen Quickley (@IQ_GodSon) December 30, 2023
Our friends at Duke Basketball Report took the news of RJ’s trade very hard, calling the Knicks an “awful franchise” and singling out James Dolan as “essentially an arsonist.” Funny, from our vantage point, the Knicks have been a well-run, improving franchise since Leon Rose became team president, and as far as we can tell, Dolan has been too preoccupied with other projects (Sphere, writing rockin’ tunes) to muck with the Knicks in recent years. Yet, I understand the emotion. RJ came so very close to winning a championship in NC. (Oh, wait. . . .)
At the very least, we have ample Knicks news to discuss at tonight’s New Year’s Eve festivities. Have a happy and healthy one, Knicks family.