Knicks defensive wing reportedly ‘not thrilled’ with free agent offer; could test open market

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

The New York Knicks could be at risk of losing defensive wing OG Anunoby in free agency this summer. With the NBA Finals officially over, teams are allowed to start negotiating contracts with their own free agents immediately, though ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested on the network’s program “Get Up” that Anunoby could want to test the open market after seeing their latest offer.

“Most people believe Anunoby will stay with New York, but there have been indications he may want to test the market, because he’s not thrilled with what the Knicks are offering,” said Windhorst (h/t RealGM).

Could the Knicks lose OG Anunoby in free agency?

The widespread belief among league executives is that Anunoby will still work out a long-term deal with New York, though this latest development suggests that another team has a greater chance of snatching him from the Knicks.

May 8, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) drives past Indiana Pacers forward Obi Toppin (1) in the third quarter during game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Expressing a desire to hear offers from other teams could simply be a negotiating method to gain leverage in hopes of securing a larger deal with the Knicks, but it could also mean he is willing to leave for a larger check. Another team that has expressed serious interest in the 26-year-old forward is one of the Knicks’ biggest conference rivals in the Philadelphia 76ers.

It is unclear what the Knicks’ initial offer to Anunoby was, and it is unlikely that figure will ever be leaked publicly. HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto suggested earlier this week that Anunoby could be making at minimum $35 million per year and potentially reach a salary of well over $40 million per year, which would make him the highest-paid player on the Knicks based on the team’s current contracts (Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle are eligible for extensions this offseason).

OG Anunoby was a massive difference-maker for the Knicks this past season

Anunoby’s talent level is not in question as he elevated the Knicks ceiling the day he came over in a trade from the Toronto Raptors in late December, though he missed most of the second half of the regular season and most of the second round of the playoffs with injuries, which played a big part in them coming up short in this year’s postseason. Including the playoffs, the Knicks were 26-6 in games Anunoby played and had a 9.3 net rating in those games. Without him, the team was 31-32 with a 1.2 net rating.

In 23 regular season games with the Knicks, he averaged 14.1 points on 39.4% from three and provided a block per game and 1.7 steals on the defensive side of the ball. Evidently, his all-around game is a seamless fit for the Knicks, and losing him in free agency would severely hurt their plans to run back a fully healthy roster in hopes of a title run next season.

As the free agency period continues, expect the Knicks to be more aggressive in trying to bring back their biggest difference maker this summer.

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