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Knicks Shake Up Core in Blockbuster Trade for Raptors’ OG Anunoby

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Dec 31, 2023

The New York Knicks have acquired forward OG Anunoby from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, according to multiple reports Saturday.

Knicks Send Barrett, Quickley North for Anunoby

The Knicks are sending two key pieces of their young core—Barrett and Quickley—along with a 2023 second round draft pick and two future second rounders to Toronto for Anunoby and backups Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn.

Anunoby, a 25-year-old defensive stopper, provides New York with the type of versatile forward it has coveted. The 6-foot-7, 232-pounder averages a career-best 18.9 points per game this season on 36.6% 3-point shooting, along with 6.2 rebounds.

“Anunoby is exactly what the Knicks have desperately needed,” said ESPN analyst Jay Williams. “An elite perimeter defender who can shoot from outside, finish at the rim and score 20 points a night. He could be the missing piece that gets them to the next level.”

Barrett, the No. 3 overall pick in 2019, heads back to his native Canada after averaging 19.3 points per game across four seasons in New York. The 22-year-old signed a four-year, $107 million rookie extension in October.

Quickley, a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden, emerged as a dangerous scoring guard off the bench. The third-year Kentucky product is averaging 12 points per game and shooting 37% from three this season.

“This is a bittersweet day for me,” Quickley posted on social media shortly after the trade went through. “New York will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you to Knicks fans who embraced me from Day One.”

Why Did the Knicks and Raptors Make This Trade?

For New York, Anunoby provides the type of skills the team has coveted for years. First-year head coach Kenny Payne, who joined the Knicks from Kentucky after the season started, is said to be a huge fan of Anunoby’s defensive versatility and shooting ability.

The Knicks tried to pry Donovan Mitchell from the Jazz this past summer before he ultimately landed in Cleveland. Anunoby brings some of the same qualities at a more cost-effective rate.

New York has hovered around .500 all season, struggling to find the right mix around franchise cornerstone Jalen Brunson. Now Brunson and Julius Randle have an elite complementary player to ease some of their load.

For Toronto, this trade officially turns the page from the 2019 championship era led by the likes of Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard. All-Star Pascal Siakam remains, but trading Anunoby signals a full reboot around young talents like Scottie Barnes and the newly acquired Barrett.

In Barrett, the Raptors land an ascending, 22-year-old Canadian native who could quickly become a franchise face in his homeland. He joins the Raptors after averaging 19.3 points per game across his first four NBA seasons.

Quickley provides instant offense as a microwave bench scorer. He and fellow former Wildcat Malachi Flynn offer an intriguing young guard duo off Toronto’s bench.

The Raptors also now own all of their future first round draft picks after previous trades left them without much draft capital. This was essential for a team moving into rebuilding mode. Toronto could be major players at the 2023 trade deadline from a seller’s perspective.

What’s Next for Both Sides After the Trade?

For the Knicks, their work may not be done yet. They still have roughly $18 million in cap space even after taking on Anunoby and Achiuwa’s contracts, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks. New York has been linked to quality role players like Seth Curry, Doug McDermott and Alec Burks who could provide additional shooting.

If the Knicks want to go big, they also have the flexibility to pursue Phoenix’s Jae Crowder, who has not played this season while awaiting a trade.

After the All-Star break, the lineup could look something like:

Position Starter
PG Jalen Brunson
SG Quentin Grimes
SF OG Anunoby
PF Julius Randle
C Mitchell Robinson
Key Reserves RJ Hampton, Isaiah Hartenstein, Cam Reddish

For the Raptors, Scottie Barnes will now shoulder an even greater load as the face of their young core. He and Pascal Siakam may not be together in Toronto for long, however.

Rival executives believe the Raptors will seriously listen to offers on Siakam over the coming weeks. Toronto may opt to deal the veteran forward for additional draft picks and young players rather than risk losing him for nothing in free agency.

Keep an eye on rising Western Conference threats like the Pelicans and Timberwolves as potential Siakam suitors. The Raptors’asking price would surely be high considering Siakam’s ability to immediately raise a team’s ceiling.

How Does This Trade Impact Other East Contenders?

The balance of power in the Eastern Conference looks shaken up after Saturday’s blockbuster.

While the Raptors pivot toward a rebuild, the Knicks added a piece who could help vault them into the conference’s upper echelon. Anunoby brings the type of two-way impact New York has lacked for decades.

The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks still look a cut above the rest of the East. But the Knicks likely just grabbed the No. 3 spot over the likes of Cleveland, Brooklyn and Philadelphia.

For the 76ers, failing to land Anunoby after months of trade rumors linking the forwards is an undeniable disappointment. Team president Daryl Morey may have no choice but to break up the Joel Embiid-James Harden duo that has failed to click. Look for a busy trade market centered around Tobias Harris.

In Atlanta, teaming Anunoby with budding superstar Trae Young would have accelerated the Hawks’ rebuild. Instead, the Knicks acquired the versatile forward who could swing the balance of power in the Southeast Division their way. The pressure rises on Atlanta to make an aggressive win-now move of their own after missing out.

The Heat and Nets face similar pressure to keep up with the reconfigured East hierarchy. Brooklyn letting yet another possible franchise cornerstone slip away continues a worrisome trend that leaves their future murky at best.

Raptors-Knicks Trade Grades

After analyzing the short and long-term impact from every angle, here are the trade grades:

Team Grade
Raptors A-
Knicks A

Ultimately, both teams met their objectives with this landscape-shifting swap.

The Raptors grabbed the young core pieces necessary to spark a rebuild, got back much-needed draft picks, and freed up cap space without taking on bad contracts. The Knicks finally landed a versatile two-way forward capable of making an All-Defense squad as soon as next season. He could be a franchise fixture for years to come.

Saturday served as a precursor to what should continue as a lively 2023 trade market. Buckle up, the NBA landscape looks ready for more seismic shifts ahead of the Feb. 9 deadline.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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