Could Knicks make a run at OG Anunoby after agency switch?

Could the Knicks target OG Anunoby?
Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby (3) dribbles the ball as Charlotte Hornets center Mason Plumlee (24) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

Earlier this year, during the height of the NBA Trade Deadline season, the New York Knicks were often linked to Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby. While nothing came of it at the time, it seems that there is renewed smoke to this fire. 

 OG Anunoby is entering the final non-option year of his contract with the Raptors, but with Toronto potentially entering a rebuilding phase, there is some discussion of an OG Anunoby trade. That discussion is only heightened by Anunoby’s decision this week to leave his agency, Klutch Sports, which negotiated his current four-year, $72 million contract with Toronto. 

NBA insider Marc Stein reported in the Stein Line that “Word is Anunoby is leaving Klutch Sports and soon to choose new representation,” Stein writes. “The Raptors have already been heavily engaged with Rich Paul’s Klutch agency this month with Fred VanVleet poised to become one of the league’s most highly coveted free agents Friday at 6 PM ET and Gary Trent Jr. unexpectedly deciding to pick up his $18.5 million player option for next season rather than join VanVleet in free agency.”

This news is interesting to the Knicks because Klutch Sports founder, LeBron James’ longtime friend Rich Paul, has said publicly that he doesn’t want his players to play for the Knicks and former CAA agent Leon Rose, who is now the New York Knicks president. That distaste for the Knicks was exacerbated by a contentious relationship between the organization and Cam Reddish, who is also a Klutch client, earlier this year.

That feud came to the forefront earlier this offseason when it was reported that Zach LaVine, who is also repped by Klutch Sports, would prefer to not be traded to the Knicks.

Now that Anunoby is no longer with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports, many are suggesting that there is some renewed interest in the idea of New York making a move for the forward. This January, New York was reportedly willing to offer Toronto multiple first-round picks for Anunoby, so perhaps they would be willing to make a similar deal now.

Could OG Anunoby be a Knicks trade target
OG Anunoby shoots for the Toronto Raptors during the 2021-22 season (wikimedia commons)

Although, with Anunoby entering the final year of his contract, it’s possible the Knicks would not need to surrender multiple picks for the soon-to-be 26-year-old. However, he is sure to be highly coveted as a trade target. 

Anunoby is coming off of one of his best seasons to date. In 2022-23 he averaged 16.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and a league-leading 1.9 steals per game. His 128 steals were the most in the league, despite him missing 15 games, and helped him earn a spot on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. Considering e also shot 38.7% from behind the arc, he fills the Knicks’ two biggest needs of floor-spacing and defense. 

In fact, among all qualified small forwards, Anunoby ranked 4th in defensive RAPTOR but was 23rd among small forwards in Wins Above Replacement (WAR). For comparison’s sake, RJ Barett ranked 92nd among 100 qualified small forwards in WAR and 93rd in defensive RAPTOR. 

It goes without saying, Anunoby would be a clear upgrade for the Knicks when it comes to defense and shooting. However, he will also require a lucrative contract extension to keep him in New York beyond next season, and that’s where the problem lies given the money the Knicks have tied up in Barrett, Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, and Mitchell Robinson. 

In order for the Knicks to make a trade for Anunoby, they would need to feel confident they can sign him to a long-term deal, and in order to sign him to a long-term deal, one of the aforementioned players would need to be traded back to Toronto. 

Brunson isn’t going anywhere, and given that Toronto appears to be leaning towards a rebuild, it’s unlikely Randle is attractive to them, which means that the Canadian-born Barrett might be the most attractive option. 

Would Barrett and two firsts be enough for Anunoby in the final year of his deal? Could the Knicks swing Barrett, Obi Toppin, and just one pick?

Another option would be to include one of Quentin Grimes or Immanuel Quickley. Both young guards are up for extensions in the next two years, so if New York feels as though they can only sign one of them to a long-term deal, they could offer the other guard up with Barrett to land Anunoby without trading away too many future picks. 

There are myriad options with the Knicks certainly having the pieces to swing a deal, and trading for a 26-year-old seems to fit the team’s current timeline better than trading for the oft-injured 33-year-old Paul George. 

However, only time will tell if Toronto’s asking price is too high. 

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Could OG Anunoby be a Knicks trade target?
Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby, left, and Scottie Barnes battle for the ball with Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Randall Benton)