Who Won The OG Anunoby Trade?
The NBA trade deadline season is officially upon us, with our first trade happening Saturday afternoon between the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors. This deal left mixed reactions, with some believing New York shouldn’t have given up Immanuel Quickley and some scratching their heads on why Toronto took on RJ Barrett’s contract.
In today’s article, I will break down the OG Anunoby and RJ Barrett trade and explain who won and where both sides go. It was well known the Raptors would implode; now we are finally seeing it in real-time.
How does this benefit them? Are the Knicks certified contenders? Will both teams be done with trading, or will there be more (big or small) trades to take place? So many of these questions will be answered; let us get into it now.
The details of the transaction
- OG Anunoby
- Precious Achiuwa
- Malachi Flynn
Regarding contracts, Anunoby is in the final year of his deal. While Anunoby has an option he can exercise, he most likely declines it to get a long-term extension. Also, Achiuwa and Flynn are eligible for restricted free agency this summer for New York.
The Raptors got a second-rounder, which means little in the grand scheme. However, it builds draft capital, so that is a plus. Where the real excitement comes in is featuring Barrett and Quickley. Barrett is under contract for the next four seasons; his total pay is $107 million.
For Quickley, he will be landing in restricted free agency after turning down an extension with his former team last offseason. His goal and demands is to be a starting point guard making roughly $25-$30 million a season.
In terms of the details surrounding this trade, this is everything contract-wise. Now, it is time for us to discuss each team and come to a conclusion about who won.
The New York Knicks
As we all know, the real gold is OG Anunoby. However, looking at the complete picture, Malachi Flynn and Precious Achiuwa are good pieces to get for depth purposes.
Flynn is known as a good pull-up shooter who can make good plays due to his high basketball IQ. What challenged him was his athletic difference and size in the league, but he could still have a good role with New York. Honestly, he will always be known as a bench player. However, he can make it work and still provide valuable minutes on both sides of the floor.
Achiuwa is a little bit different, and he provides more value than Flynn. He’s a genuine quality bench player with experience playing as a starter. Give him minutes, and you’ll see a player grinding out 10/5 a game; it’s not ambitious; it is the truth.
This trade was a positive for the Knicks, especially considering their bench and strengthening it due to injuries and players not meeting expectations. Now, let’s get into the main course of what New York received.
OG Anunoby is what the Knicks need to be a legitimate playoff team
Their starting lineup will be Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, and Isaiah Hartenstein. The standard center would be Mitchell Robinson, but he is most likely out for the season. Plus, Jericho Sims is also battling his injuries.
DiVincenzo has found his groove in this starting lineup that creates a unique backcourt with Brunson, who has been having an impressive season. One of the main problems for this team was a fragile frontcourt with cracks in their game.
Anunoby was the perfect addition to this team who is an all-around great player. Do you want to talk about one of the best two-way wing players in this league? Then let’s talk about Anunoby, which makes New York fans happy.
I can’t tell you how well they’ll be improving on the wing and then defensively; this move quickly solidifies them as a top-five team in the Eastern Conference and a team that can escape the first round of the postseason.
If comparisons are made on what they gave up and what they got in return, focusing solely on Anunoby, then you will see how Anunoby is better than the players they gave up. With all due respect to those quality players.
RJ Barrett isn’t the most efficient, consistent shooter alive, so why would the Knicks want to pay him $20+ million a season when they could capture Anunoby, who is way better and given more perks?
Plus, the 26-year-old is a fantastic player off and on the ball. Players can struggle with it if they consider how elite he does it. The same goes for his defensive abilities. Has anyone seen his on-ball defensive skills? It’s simply incredible how easy he makes it look.
I say all this to say the Knicks will now have a new trio, not quite a “Big 3,” but a solid trio of players who get the job done. Brunson, Randle, and Anunoby are going to be a problem. New York can finally have consistency attacking the entire court with excellent ball movement, inside pressure, and the ability to create shots much more effortlessly.
Their official grade
CourtSideHeat’s official grade would be an “A”; this was a very straightforward trade that allowed them to get better wing help on both ends of the court. The only hesitancy to not giving them a perfect grade would be them trading away Immanuel Quickley.
I know his demands and them not wanting to give in to them, but Quickley could have been given starter-like minutes with him to get the bottom of his money request. I thought Quentin Grimes could have been substituted into the deal. However, it’s understandable why New York did what they did.
So, I’m not going to hold this move against them; I applaud them for going for this big move, which is why I will give them this high grade.
Do not be surprised if the Knicks end the season as a top-five team; they can give the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Indiana Pacers all a battle. Also, bold prediction: with them adding Anunoby, I can see them being a 50-win organization—something to consider.
The Toronto Raptors
Even though the Knicks didn’t have good luck or a solid time with them, do not rule them out and their potential with Toronto. RJ Barrett still provides value, and all know what type of sixth man turning into a starter Immanuel Quickley is.
The Raptors’ new starting lineup is Scottie Barnes, Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett, Pascal Siakam, and Jakob Poeltl. It’s still being determined whether or not Siakam will be moved before the deadline; the franchise is still feeling his market value and what they want to get in return from teams.
Despite all those rumors, let’s take this lineup at face value like it’s staying. I believe this is a potentially deadly lineup due to the growing and existing talent these five players possess.
A backcourt of Barnes and Quickley is scary good, why? Quickley has an excellent offensive game, proving to be the case with 15 PPG, with the ability to have a nice arsenal of range from the paint to the arc. Plus, he has an excellent defensive game. Let’s not forget about those attributes.
It compliments Brunson quite nicely when knowing how explosive he is on the court; I mean, his shooting abilities have blossomed since his final season with the Dallas Mavericks. It’s the same scenario Mikal Bridges faced during his last season with the Phoenix Suns before going to the Brooklyn Nets.
Brunson is averaging 25.9/4/6 a game; why do I bring this up? I bring this up because I’m getting the same vibes of this backcourt duo as I did/am with the Atlanta Hawks duo. Dejounte Murray and Trae Young have an excellent system in the backcourt, especially when they first began, and the same can be achieved with Quickley and Brunson.
Where does RJ Barrett fall in all this?
Please don’t think about this when I say RJ Barrett is a streaky, inconsistent shooter because I don’t want anyone to think he isn’t worth his money or shouldn’t be a starter. Barrett is worth his money because he provides valuable production when on the court; plus, he deserves to be a starter.
When he was coming out of Duke, and even to this day, Barrett is that guy who can score off the dribble and be put into (almost) any situation as a shooter. Do you want him to take a spot-up shot? Done, he can do that. Do you want him to score on off-ball motion plays? Consider it done.
RJ Barrett is an absolute bucket who can provide tremendous value to the Raptors. It goes beyond scoring; he can play-make a bit with the ability to get offensive/defensive rebounds. Gifted athleticism is also a tremendous advantage to not only the player but to the team as well.
His time with New York should be remembered positively because he did well with the team; the expectations differed from reality. However, scouting reports during the draft confirmed his streaky shooting. Honestly, I’m not too concerned about it as I firmly believe Darko Rajaković (with his staff) will help Barrett and allow him to get into more comfortable scenarios he wants to be in.
I’m not going to say Barrett had a hard time in New York, but Tom Thibodeau did not make life easy, that’s for sure.
If Siakam stays, they are a playoff team
Does Pascal Siakam get traded this deadline? The reports and rumors point towards a departure, but the feeling has surrounded them since the last deadline. If he were to stay, Toronto and Siakam could sit down and talk about a playoff push. That would only work if they had the flexibility to trade him during the following offseason; however, he didn’t sign his extension.
Let’s play the scenario of him staying because it would be harder to make the postseason if he leaves (depending on the haul they receive). I love how good this team looks on paper. You have a leader in Siakam, a more potent front and backcourt, and the ability to take control of their destiny this season.
This is easily a 45-win team, and I know they are 12-20 (12th in the East), but they have the talent and have revamped their starting lineup. Anunoby was leaving no matter what, so Bobby Webster went out and got more pieces to help them win games. It wasn’t a 1:1 but a 1:2 trade where the Raptors benefited more – if we are talking about known players who make a difference.
Yes, they lost an incredible, elite-like wing player, but they got a solid guard and wing in return. This is a team who bargained their chips correctly.
They are bargaining for the future, with or without Pascal Siakam. They just needed time, and now Toronto is making smart moves.
Their official grade
With all that being said, the Toronto Raptors will be receiving an “A” grade. They are turning themselves around; again, there have been mixed signals on this deal (for both parties), but this is how Toronto wants and needs to go in.
The way they orchestrated this deal didn’t kill them; I mean financially or taking on unnecessary players. What they received was reliable, developing, and lineup-strengthening players. Scottie Barnes has gotten help, and so has Jakob Poeltl and potentially Siakam if he stays.
So, in the end, the Raptors will get the same grade as the Knicks.
Both teams won
Was this the answer you were hoping for? Maybe, maybe not – depending on who’s reading, but it’s the truth. New York didn’t gut their team to land Anunoby, and Toronto got the right pieces to keep themselves rebuilding and improving.
There are trades we look at and can say whether it was one-sided or not, debate about it, but for this one, it wasn’t. This was so balanced it is hard to come by in this league.
Both sides deserve “A’s.” It’s incredible to see both sides benefit, as we all know these player’s roles will actively increase and help both sides. Even if we are looking into the future, that is even better. Toronto is more long-term (unless they turn it around before the break), but the Knicks are both with them, hunting for a playoff spot.
How do you guys feel about this trade?
Do you guys agree with this assessment? Should one team be higher than the other? Let me know on X (FKA Twitter) by tagging @CourtSideHeat. I would love to hear y’all’s thoughts.