What a time to be alive for all New York Knicks fans. And what a couple of days it’s been to wrap up 2023 and open 2024 in immaculate fashion.
On Saturday, Dec. 30, the NYK finally moved on from their two most-coveted homegrown talents and sent both RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley north of the border in exchange for OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn in what is believed to be the first move of a new era in Knicks lore.
With so much going on for the last 48 hours, including the arrival of OG in Manhattan, his initial press conference, his debut at MSG in a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, and some postgame talk, here’s everything that has been said by the man himself and some others around in in the past two days, timeline-style.
Dec. 30 — Trade Day
The news broke on Saturday afternoon: New York and Toronto had completed a five-player, one-pick deal exchanging three of their core players and sending them the other way around: OG Anunoby went to the Knicks, RJ and IQ to the Raptors.
There was some aftermath to the trade, most prominently the three-year extension signed by Miles McBride right after the transaction went through, but Anunoby—as well as Precious and Malachi—were the main attraction on New Year’s Eve and New Year on the day of a highly-anticipated debut against the Wolves at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks played the Pacers on Dec. 30 and couldn’t count on any of the incoming/outgoing players involved in the trade. Julius Randle, however, was the first to comment on the addition of OG to the Knicks roster back then.
“[Anunoby] can really defend,” Randle said. “He can shoot. Big, long.”
Coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t address OG directly, but also discussed the trade and the impact it might have going forward.
“I think anytime you make a move, it takes a little bit of time,” Thibs said. “But that’s the challenge of our league. There’s constant change, and then it’s how quickly can we adapt? So whether it’s a trade or an injury or free agency, you’re always adjusting, get a new draft pick, whatever it might be. And then everyone has to work together, sacrifice and do what’s best for the team.”
Asked about the possibility of having Anunoby playing Monday, Thibs said “Yeah, if we have to, that’s what we’ll do. I don’t know what the logistics of everything are yet. But whatever it is, we just got to find a way.”
Anunoby would enter Monday having not practiced at all with his new teammates, as the Knicks didn’t even have a shootaround scheduled for Monday before the 3 pm tip-off.
Dec. 31 — The Arrival in New York City
Not a lot of content popped up on New Year’s Eve with the Knicks enjoying a day off with no game scheduled for Sunday and the Wolves coming to town on Monday.
That said, the trio of former Raptors used that time to jump on a plane destination LaGuardia and find a place to stay for the night ahead of their debut (Malachi Flynn was ruled out with a sprained ankle) at MSG one day later.
Anunoby was introduced on Monday, Jan. 1 ahead of the afternoon matchup against Minny. That said, we’re counting some of the quotes OG and the rest of our folks shared yesterday as if they belong to Dec. 31 as they recalled what went down on Saturday and Sunday.
“I was surprised,” Anunoby told reporters on Monday. “I didn’t know what was going on. But just ready to move forward now.”
“When I found out it was the Knicks, I was definitely excited,” Anunoby said via The Athletic’s Fred Katz. “I’ve always liked the team. I grew up a fan of basketball, so I always watched the Knicks.”
“I just take it day by day and let me agents handle that,” Anunoby said regarding his future in New York (he’s an upcoming free agent with a player option in his contract he’s expected to decline).
Jan. 1 — Introduction to NYC
Tom Thibodeau discussed the addition of OG and what he expects from the sturdy-yet-smooth 3-and-D wing.
“Every player has different strengths and weaknesses,” Thibs started. “I think what OG has done and what he has shown, one he has positional size. Two, he can guard multiple positions. Three, he’s a terrific three-point shooter, so he can space the floor.
“He’s also very good in transition, very good at finishing [around the rim]. And he’s young so he still has a lot of development left in his game.”
Anunoby told reporters that he spent Sunday on his hotel room, didn’t celebrate, and simply focused on getting ready for Monday’s game by trying to learn as much as possible about the Knicks playbook handed to him by Thibs and the franchise ahead of the MSG matinee while also talking to coach on the phone.
“I didn’t leave my room yesterday,” he said. “I had to do like physicals and stuff, meet with medical people. So I got in last night. Got phone calls and stuff. Looked at some stuff. Then had to go to bed.
“I had to find a condo. Honestly, I don’t know. I had to find out where to live. I don’t know anything. I’m just trying to figure it out.”
OG Anunoby believes he is a natural fit for the Knicks' roster:— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 1, 2024
"Knicks players are tough. They play hard, play to win. I do all of those things." pic.twitter.com/DiGC0jD3J9
OG also acknowledged Thibs’ coaching style fits his game. “I think I’m a tough player. [Thibs] players are tough, they play hard, they play to win. I think I do all of those things,” Anunoby said. “I think it’s a tough group, resilient group, and we all just want to win. So I think I’ll fit right in with that. “Just to start playing, to get it going with my teammates, and play at MSG in front of the fans, [I’m] just really excited.”
OG Anunoby says he's "really excited" to play at Madison Square Garden: pic.twitter.com/aVu0SrS0kp— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 1, 2024
Anunoby sounded ecstatic about playing inside MSG while clad in Orange and Blue threads. “I was definitely excited. Always loved playing here as an opposing player, so to play here, play all my home games here, is really exciting,” said Anunoby. “Just an iconic place. A lot of big moments here happen, a lot of great games, and just really excited.”
Thibs didn’t push the matter when it came to Anunoby’s debut and what the coach was going to demand from him, either.
“You don’t want him overthinking things. Just give him a base and a framework and we can add day by day,” Thibs said, “If you get lost, just play.”
OG Anunoby gets a warm welcome at Madison Square Garden pic.twitter.com/qAxtuHgBMH— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 1, 2024
Jan. 1 — Postgame Vibes
“I felt good,” Anunoby said after the win. “I felt good. Just trying to help the team on both ends. Just talking to guys on defense and them talking to me, helping know where to be, and stuff. Felt good.”
“We won the game and were up a lot of the game, so it felt good,” said Anunoby, who received a standing ovation when he fouled out in the fourth. “Just read and react, that was everything for me, really. “New terminology, new everything. Just trying to figure out everything as fast as I can.”
OG's first bucket as a Knick pic.twitter.com/PGKXVM7KHN— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 1, 2024
Anunoby was also helped throughout the game by his new teammates. “Even during the game, they were telling me, ‘Go here. Do this.’” Anunoby revealed. “Yeah, they were helping me out for sure, a lot of them. And I’m thankful for it.”
Added OG: “I just think day by day, each day, I’m going to get better and better. Learning everything. Learning terminology, learning plays, learning sets. I’ll learn every day.”
Thibs was pleased with OG’s debut against the Wolves, one ending in victory for the Knicks and putting an end to their three-game losing skid at the rear end of the 2023 calendar year.
“I thought for the first game, impressive,” Thibodeau said. “Just to be ready, and kind of figure it out on the fly. Played smart, played off people well, hustled, moved without the ball, shot good shots, made good plays... very good start.”
OG Anunoby's Knicks debut is in the books. pic.twitter.com/jFiMxZtQK8— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 1, 2024
Jalen Brunson explained OG’s mindset entering the game and how the newcomer was going to approach it. “I remember coming onto the court, and [OG] was like, ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing, so I’m going to keep cutting.’ I said, ‘OK.’
“He just naturally just plays hard on both sides of the ball. When he sees something, he just attacks it, and it’s just who he is. He’s going to find ways to impact the game and that’s what he’s done his whole career.
“He plays really hard on both sides of the ball, and he’s — I guess you can say a perfect fit. I think he’s only going to get better with the more he knows the things that we do and the more he understands with our terminology on both sides of the ball and stuff like that, so he can be very special here.”
"They were helping me out for sure, a lot of them."— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 2, 2024
OG Anunoby credits some of his Knicks teammates for helping him out in his first game with the team: pic.twitter.com/y2qJfvrA7I
Julius Randle also chimed in, saying “He’s a competitor. He makes timely shots, timely plays on the defensive end, and he guards the best player [on the other team]. It’s not easy to do what he did.”
Quoth JR: “Psssssh. Amazing. Seems like the perfect piece that complements our team very well. He does a lot of timely things out there, and it was big for us tonight to get that win.”
OG Anunoby shares his appreciation for the fans cheering him during pregame introductions:— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 2, 2024
"I definitely feel it." pic.twitter.com/HFXtQQe4m8
One down, maaaaaaaaaaaaany more to go. Let’s Go OG! Let’s Go Knicks!