Welp... one of the Sixers’ ideal trade targets is now off the board. OG Anunoby, who was injured during the 2018-2019 playoffs when the Toronto Raptors won the championship, but still has a ring, is headed for what’s known as The Mecca of Basketball, Madison Square Garden to play for the New York Knicks.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to break the news:
The Toronto Raptors are finalizing a trade to send OG Anunoby to the New York Knicks for a package including RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and draft considerations, sources tell ESPN. pic.twitter.com/Z81TH1EexF— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 30, 2023
Woj notes that former 2019 third overall pick, RJ Barrett (a native of Canada, and a fellow Drew Hanlen trainee like Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid), along with Maxey’s former Kentucky backcourt running mate, Immanuel Quickley, plus draft considerations will be headed to The North.
Woj followed up his original report with a note that the Raptors are acquiring a second-round pick from the New York Knicks as well.
The Toronto Raptors are acquiring a New York 2024 second-round pick via the Detroit Pistons, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/Rj8sBnmBV1— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 30, 2023
So we’ll wait and see what other information trickles out. I would have assumed that the Knicks would have had to offer a package similar to the one that Utah Jazz exec Danny Ainge once asked the Knicks for in a potential Donovan Mitchell deal a couple of summers ago; that is, three-to-four first-round picks, along with names like Barrett, Immanuel Quickley or Quentin Grimes. But just one second-rounder?
But if the Knicks don’t even have to part ways with serious draft capital, this makes them extremely dangerous as a big market team in a top city, now perhaps one piece away from true contention.
Remember, Donovan Mitchell is set to hit free agency once again come summer 2025, and he still has all his roots in Queens, New York. If the Cavaliers don’t think he’ll re-sign in Cleveland, they’ll have a major incentive to at least test his trade market within the next calendar year.
And the division rival Knicks, led by Joel Embiid’s former agent, Leon Rose, will have some cap space and still possess one of the league’s biggest draft hauls (if we do not learn that more first-rounders changed hands in this deal).
On the flip side, it also seems that Raptors top exec Masai Ujiri will come under some intense fire if this doesn’t work out. It was once rumored that he rejected deals where he was offered multiple firsts for the London native, and former Indiana Hoosier, Anunoby.
If you’re searching for precedence this could work out for the Raptors, I guess you could point to the Oklahoma-Indiana trade involving Paul George, then on an expiring deal, and looking for a new home out west, exchanged for Victor Oladipo, and Domantas Sabonis. The Pacers felt they were going to lose PG13 anyway, and at least got a couple of studs, but no top picks. Injuries derailed Oladipo’s once-bright All-Star career, but Sabonis allowed them to eventually land one Tyrese Haliburton (I know a sensitive subject).
A massive long-term win for the RaceCars. Racecar is also a wonderful palindrome.
I’m not sure Barrett, aka “Maple Mamba,” has that type of Oladipo or Sabonis rise in him. He’s been pretty inefficient to date. But he’s showed some flashes. Immanuel Quickley is already a very solid two-way role player, with room to grow in a big way.
It’s already a sellers market around the league, and this almost certainly won’t help the Sixers cause. If only Masai Ujiri had read that piece linked above by Bryan Toporek, he could have asked for SO, SO much more. But if you’re a glass-half-full person, maybe you’d ask yourself hey, if OG went for one bad contract in Barrett, one useful role player in Quick— with upside—, and a friggin’ second, how expensive could [insert future disgruntled superstar] be? Could Mikal Bridges be had for three picks and a swap plus useful role players?
And it also puts a perennially moribund-to-mediocre big market team in New York now in a prime position to make one more massive, superstar splash. But it would be funny if OG was simply a rental, and the Knicks wound up simply “dumping Barrett” in this exchange.
What’s going on here? I can’t help but wonder if the Raps owner influenced this move.
Still, hopefully, Daryl Morey has a counter up his sleeve.
Just in case things seem too good to be true for Knicks fans (how often do we say that?) who can now offer OG a five-year max come this summer, there is also the risk that he doesn’t re-sign in the Big Apple; or at least doesn’t do so for a long-term deal.
Recall, it once seemed like a foregone conclusion when the Sixers traded for James Harden, also on an expiring deal like OG, that the former MVP and three-time scoring champ would stay long-term. And well... that never happened.
So you never know. Maybe Morey can shake his crippling fear of tampering now and get a line to OG, trying to convince him to leave $60M or so on the table this July to take the turnpike south a just few more miles.
OG's— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) December 31, 2023
five-year max would be: ~$247.1M
He can sign a four-year, 117M extension before FA.
Hed be giving up ~$74M by taking the extension instead of a four-year max. and $130M (!) less on that 5 year!
If Knicks pull THAT off with Rose’s son as agent… check…
Sigh. Not the best news in Sixersville. OG would have fit perfectly and an upstart division rival led by star Jalen Brunson is now one Donovan Mitchell-type player away from being a true title contender.
PR damage control? Or are fans buying this idea? https://t.co/bm9pNLufzN— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) December 31, 2023
And they’ll be a much tougher first-round or second-round opponent now as currently constructed. But a move like this should only increase Leon Rose’s aggressiveness in the coming weeks.