The Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks completed a major trade on Saturday, with the Raptors sending forward OG Anunoby to the Knicks in exchange for RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley. The move signals a retooling for the Raptors, while the Knicks add an impact player on both ends of the court.
Key Details of the Trade
- Raptors receive shooting guard RJ Barrett and point guard Immanuel Quickley
- Knicks receive forward OG Anunoby
- Raptors take on long term money but get young assets that fit timeline
- Knicks add impact wing defender and shooter next to Brunson and Randle
RJ Barrett, the 3rd overall pick in 2019 out of Duke, heads to Toronto along with backup point guard Immanuel Quickley. The Raptors had been looking to trade Anunoby, an excellent 3-and-D wing, for some time.
Anunoby is averaging 18.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 36% from three this year. He immediately upgrades the Knicks at small forward and gives them an elite perimeter defender.
Why Did the Raptors Make This Trade?
Toronto sees this as an opportunity to retool around Scottie Barnes while picking up young talent. The Raptors struggled early this year with passsing and shooting issues. By cashing in on Anunoby’s high value, they get Barrett who fits the timeline better and saves money long term compared to an Anunoby extension.
As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes, “The math works for Toronto in a deal like this – the Raptors will actually save $12M in a long-term deal for OG due to Barrett’s lower cap hold in 2024.” Rather than overpay Anunoby or lose him for nothing in restricted free agency, Toronto pivots to Barrett who is signed through 2024 on his rookie deal.
Trading their best player signals that competing now is no longer the priority in Toronto. However, Barrett and Quickley should quickly contribute in the starting lineup, and the Raptors have all their future picks to make more moves.
How Does This Trade Impact the Knicks?
For New York, it continues an aggressive push to build a winner around Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson. Team president Leon Rose traded a haul of picks to Utah for Donovan Mitchell in the offseason and now cashes in Barrett and Quickley for the ideal 3-and-D compliment.
The Knicks tried Derrick Rose and Evan Fournier at small forward this year but with mixed results. Now Anunoby gives them a high level starter there while Tom Thibodeau gets an avid defender.
As SI’s Robin Lundberg observed, “The acquisition of OG Anunoby is another step for the Knicks to be seen as a legitimate contender in the East. He provides versatility and shooting while being able to match up against opposing wings.”
The Knicks do take on some risk that Anunoby demands a max contract in 2024 and that Barrett reaches his potential in Toronto. But New York wants to win now around Randle and Brunson, and Anunoby helps them in that aim tremendously.
How Do Barrett and Quickley Fit in Toronto?
The Raptors must feel Barrett’s upside playing back home in Toronto offsets any concerns about his slight declines the past two seasons. Offensively, he should fit well – Toronto needs shooting and Barrett hit 40% from three as a rookie.
Playing alongside Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, and Pascal Siakam, Barrett goes back to being a secondary offensive option which is likely his ideal role in the NBA. If his efficiency improves, he still holds appeal as a tall shot creator next to VanVleet.
Meanwhile Quickley brings energy and shooting off the bench, which the current reserve unit lacks. His fearless style and ability to generate his own shot should ease the burden on VanVleet. There is a scenario where Quickley plays so well, he takes over the starting point guard position long term.
Grades and Reaction to the Trade
The trade has earned praise from analysts for both sides:
New York and Toronto both accomplished goals with this move even if the Knicks may have given up more upside.
Barrett and Quickley also spoke positively about landing with the Raptors:
Immanuel Quickley: “Who doesn’t want to come home and play in front of friends and family? I’m excited to be able to go play in front of an entire country now that loves basketball and the Raptors.”
RJ Barrett: “I’m looking forward to playing in front of Canadian fans again. I’ve seen what the culture is like in Toronto, I’ve seen them develop players.”
Clearly both young guards feel optimistic about joining Nick Nurse’s program in Toronto long term.
What’s Next for Both Teams?
The Knicks aren’t necessarily done dealing – they still have an excess of first round draft picks and some veterans on expiring deals to dangle at the deadline if they want to upgrade the roster further. Whether they make another blockbuster move remains to be seen.
In Toronto, keep an eye on veteran forwards Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent Jr., and Fred VanVleet. All three could still be on the trade block this year or over the summer as the Raptors pursue a more patient team-building strategy. Siakam and Trent both start deals paying $30M+ annually next season – those are valuable trade assets.
Additionally, OG Anunoby seems unlikely to sign an extension with the Knicks until 2024 in restricted free agency. Could he play his way into a max contract? Or if things go poorly, the Knicks will explore trading him themselves at some point.
For now, the landscape of the Eastern Conference looks different with versatile forwards Anunoby and Barrett swapping spots. Both organizations hope this calculated gamble pays off in future postseason success.
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