Knicks: Breaking down OG Anunoby’s contract impact

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The New York Knicks got on the board by trading for Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby on Saturday. Bringing on the seven-year veteran comes with more than a boost to their perimeter defense.

Anunoby, 26, is slated for restricted free agency at the end of the year, putting the Knicks on the clock to fulfill his contractual desires, which reports from Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer suggest will be in the $30 million range annually:

“Anunoby held meetings with several agencies this past offseason when he decided to leave Klutch Sports, telling potential representation he was interested in a larger offensive role that would be commensurate with a salary figure in the ballpark of $40 million in average annual value, league sources told Yahoo Sports,” Fisher noted. “However, Anunoby did leave those potential agents with the impression he would be willing to accept a smaller figure if he were to have landed in New York, sources said.”

Will the Knicks Be Able to Extend Anunoby at a Discount?

The Knicks brought on Anunoby alongside Malachi Flynn and Precious Achiuwa in exchange for RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and a 2024 second-round pick.

While the deal matched up in dollars and cents, the long-term implications leave the Knicks in a somewhat advantageous position. Anunoby was initially seeking a long-term contract that would pay him closer to $40 million a year but would be willing to take a discount if sent to the Big Apple.

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Knicks Have Anunoby and Hartenstein Up For Contract Negotiations This Summer

Anunoby, a champion in 2019 and reigning All-Defensive Second Team member, brings elite defense and shooting to a Knicks team that has reeled in both categories of late. Should he improve upon his 15.1 points per game and establish himself as a dynamic third-scoring option behind Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, Anunoby will be in line to get a contract at the price he’s gunning for.

That would make Anunoby the second-highest-paid player on the roster after Randle. Fortunately, Isaiah Hartenstein is the only member of the Knicks‘ core rotation not signed through 2025-26 or later. This gives the Knicks the wiggle room to extend Anunoby, which would place them roughly $20 million above the current salary cap.

Ancillary Moves Will Determine Knicks’ Salary Cap Situation Heading Into Next Season

Evan Fournier is now in line for a revival in the Knicks’ rotation after losing grace with head coach Tom Thibodeau dating back to last season. Unloading his $19 million due in 2024-25 would cancel out the uptick in Anunoby’s yearly salary and whatever the Knicks decide to do with Achiuwa and Flynn, both of whom are owed a combined $12.84 million, as their contracts are set to expire next summer.

Ultimately, the Knicks got what they were looking for in as good as a two-way option as there was available at the small forward position. Flynn brings steady ball handling and spot-up shooting, while Achiuwa, though undersized at 6-9, rebounds well as a center and can finish around the rim.

However, the Knicks’ draft stock is now the most advantageous card in their proverbial deck. If they want to bring in another All-Star caliber talent, they might have to concede Brunson or Randle, especially with Mitchell Robinson’s season-ending injury hurting his value. For now, the Knicks will enjoy Anunoby’s productivity on the court and focus on making a deep playoff run. The money will figure itself out afterward.