Knicks ink elite defender to five-year, $212.5 million extension

NBA: Denver Nuggets at New York Knicks
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

One day after the New York Knicks acquired Mikal Bridges from the Brooklyn Nets, they signed their elite defender, OG Anunoby, to a five-year, $212.5 million deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Contract Details That Sweeten the Deal

The deal will include a player option and a trade kicker for the Knicks, who just solidified a dominant starting five, provided they retain Isaiah Hartenstein on a new contract. Anunoby’s deal will average $42.5 million per season, well above the initial yearly salary expectations, which started at $30 million and ballooned past $35 million within a few days of free agency.

Jan 23, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) talks to New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Potential Changes in the Knicks’ Starting Lineup

The Knicks now have Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, Bridges, Anunoby, and Mitchell Robinson as the primary starters, but Hartenstein would theoretically take over at center if they manage to extend him. However, retaining Hartenstein would likely mean trading Robinson and his $14.3 million cap hit this upcoming season.

Anunoby and Bridges: A Formidable Defensive Duo

The Knicks now boast a dominant defensive duo, with Anunoby and Bridges both considered some of the best in the game. This past season, Anunoby averaged 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists over 34 minutes and 50 games between Toronto and New York. During the playoffs, he averaged 15.1 points, six rebounds, and shot 50.5% from the field. Despite an elbow injury, OG was incredible for New York before a hamstring injury knocked him out of the playoffs.

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

Financial Strategy Behind Acquiring Anunoby

The Knicks were able to afford Anunoby because they essentially swapped Bojan Bogdanovic for Bridges, who is making marginally more, not to mention a few extra pieces that likely helped offset the salary.

Knicks’ Championship Ambitions

The Knicks now have a championship-caliber team, and they will need every ounce of talent to knock off the Boston Celtics, who are led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

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