Knicks could lose elite defensive free agent to rival 76ers

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks face a challenging off-season, with key decisions to make regarding their roster, particularly concerning elite free agent defender OG Anunoby.

Anunoby’s postseason was cut short due to a hamstring injury, which sidelined him during a critical playoff series against the Indiana Pacers. Despite the setback, he demonstrated remarkable efficiency when available, averaging 15.1 points and six rebounds, with a shooting percentage of .505.

Throughout the regular season, Anunoby posted averages of 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists, shooting .489 from the field across his tenure with both the Toronto Raptors and the Knicks.

Jan 27, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) slaps hands with center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) after a basket against the Miami Heat during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

At 26, Anunoby is poised to secure a significant contract, likely in the vicinity of $35 million annually, a substantial increase from the $20 million player option for the 2024-25 season. Opting out of his current contract appears to be a logical step for him, positioning him for a lucrative free agency period.

OG Anunoby’s Market Value

The Knicks are eager to finalize a deal with Anunoby, yet rumors suggest that the Philadelphia 76ers might also pursue him, envisioning a long-term agreement. Keith Pompey from the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that the 76ers have expressed interest in Anunoby as well as LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Anunoby’s defensive prowess makes him an invaluable addition for any team, particularly those with robust offensive lineups. His offensive skills are also notable, enhancing his overall market appeal. For the Knicks, securing Anunoby could solidify their lineup, complementing Coach Thibodeau’s strategic framework perfectly.

NBA: Playoffs-Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks’ Financial Situation

The Knicks currently face a tight financial situation, with total cap allocations amounting to $205.3 million, resulting in a cap space deficit of -$64.3 million. However, adjustments and transactions during the off-season could free up resources, potentially allowing the Knicks to offer Anunoby a max deal of approximately $245 million over five years.

Maintaining a balanced roster that supports stars like Jalen Brunson and potentially moving away from other high-cost players like Julius Randle may be part of their strategy. With their financial capacity and draft assets, the Knicks are well-positioned to make significant moves to strengthen their team for the upcoming seasons.

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