Toronto trading OG Anunoby wasn’t a shock, there had been rumors and many other teams interested for over a year.
However, the timing of this December 30 deal and the amount they collected surprised people around the league. After years of indecision, the Raptors made a decision and the Knicks were the beneficiaries.
Who won this exchange and who lost? Let’s break it all down.
It starts with the details of the exchange itself:
New York receives: OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, Malachi Flynn
Toronto receives: Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett, 2024 second-round pick (via Detroit, likely pick 31 or 32)
(Plus, both teams generated small trade exceptions.)
Winner: OG Anunoby
Anunoby was going to get paid no matter what. He’s a future free agent (he’ll opt out of the $19.9 million he’s owed next season because he’s worth at least $12 million more per year on the open market) and teams were queue to pay for it.
Instead, Anunuby is a winner in this trade because of the opportunities. He didn’t fit in perfectly with the Raptors and his usage rate declined as Scottie Barnes took on more of the shot creator role (as he should be, Barnes is very good at this). Combine that with Pascal Siakam on the ball and Anunoby was getting pressured in Toronto.
He will be better suited to the offense with the Knicks, where his shooting is needed and he will be better suited next to Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle (the offense will run through them). Anunoby gets a better place in a brighter spotlight and it will be good for his career – and for his next paycheck.
Tepid winner: New York Knicks
New York didn’t lose this trade – they got the best player in the deal today in Anunoby. He is an elite on-ball defender, works well with the ball on the wing, is a more efficient shooter than Barrett and should fit well next to Brunson. In an Eastern Conference where the Knicks’ playoff run will mean some combination of Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler, Tyrese Maxey, Damian Lillard and Donovan Mitchell (among others), with Anunoby’s defense being important.
Additionally, the Knicks kept their big money dry by not giving up even a single first-round pick — if a superstar becomes available via trade, they’ll still be front and center with a solid offer.
However, giving up on Quickley hurts – it’s not radical to think he’ll be the best player in this trade in three years. Would New York have been better off sending Barrett and a first-round pick (plus salary) for Anunoby and keeping Quickley? Would Toronto even have opted for this?
Plus, even with the addition of Achiuwa (and maybe Flynn, if he can crack the rotation), the Knicks bench has only gotten worse. A lot more is now falling on Quentin Grimes and Josh Hart.
Winner: Emmanuel Quickley
Like many people around the league, Quickley seemed caught off guard by the trade.
As noted above, the best player in this business today is OG Anunoby. In a few seasons, it’s not ridiculous to say that we will answer this question from Immanuel Quickley.
For reasons that frustrated and perplexed Knicks fans, Tom Thibodeau never seemed to fully trust Quickley. It’s not like Thibs buried him deep on the bench, but Quickley deserved more points than he was getting as New York’s coach put his faith in Barrett, especially in critical moments of matches.
Now, Quickley is about to get all the carry he can handle, and for those who think the Knicks overpaid in this trade, that’s basically a belief in Quickley. The opportunity presented itself for the guard.
Loser: Knicks fans
Quickley is a fan favorite – it’s easy to identify with and get behind this overlooked and underutilized guy. Now Knicks fans will watch him head to Toronto, to a team that needs exactly his skills, and see him thrive. It will be a punch in the gut, especially if his game continues to develop.
Losers: 76ers, Pistons, any other team considering Anunoby as a free agent target
The number of free agents (or potential trade class) this offseason continues to dwindle. There was a time when teams were hoping Giannis Antetokounmpo might become available (he extended with the Bucks), or maybe Joel Embiid (he seems happy right now). Then there was the level of potential free agents, and Anunoby was high on teams’ lists. Might as well cross them out now. There is no way the Knicks would throw all these assets at Toronto without assurances from Anunoby and his camp that he would re-sign in New York (although there are rumors that this could be up to discounted price, we’ll believe it when we see it). ). It’s not a great summer for free agents, even though we’re in the NBA, so surprises are always around the corner.
Winner: Toronto Raptors
It’s not about the details of this trade; it’s that they finally chose a direction. There seems to be a plan. After letting Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet walk for free, after leaning too long on a three-forward rotation that didn’t work, and with a 12-20 team in need of new direction, the Raptors have some chose one. It’s a beginning.
Whether they won this particular exchange remains to be seen. It’s too early to judge Toronto because: 1) It depends on how Quickley develops; 2) This is not a standalone trade – the Raptors have made it clear they are retooling and this will be Scottie Barnes’ team. This means that Pascal Siakam will be on the move. What they get in this possible exchange completes this agreement.
That said, you can see one way forward for Toronto: start Quickley at the point next to Barnes (which means moving Dennis Schroder to the bench), with Barrett at the three and – for now – Siakam at the four, with Jakob Poeltl at the five and as a result, it’s a pretty good team, a team that comes together better than what we saw in Toronto this season. Quickley and Barnes should thrive alongside each other.
Plus, getting that second-rounder from Detroit, who is essentially a late first-round pick, is a good thing in this trade for Toronto.
Winner: CAA Conspiracy Theorists
Leon Rose left his post as president of energy agency CAA to become president of the Knicks. He has since hired CAA-represented Thibodeau and signed CAA player Jalen Brunson as a free agent. He now has to agree a new deal with Anunoby this season and… you guessed it, he is a CAA client.
Gn En sports