Knicks watch OG Anunoby hit free agency, now the bidding war begins

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

As anticipated, Knicks‘ standout defender OG Anunoby has opted out of his player option, electing free agency. This decision follows reports that Anunoby felt underwhelmed by New York’s initial extension offer, setting the stage for a competitive bidding war for his services.

Anunoby’s Market Value Surges

Previously speculated to be obtainable for $30 million annually, Anunoby’s market price is now expected to exceed $35 million per season, positioning him among the priciest free agents available. His defensive prowess and underrated scoring ability from the small forward position were on full display last season, reinforcing his high value.

At 26 years old and in the prime of his career, Anunoby has demonstrated his skills on both ends of the court. During his tenure with both Toronto and New York, he averaged 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game, shooting 48.9% from the field and 38.2% from three-point range. His effectiveness as a perimeter shooter and defensive capabilities—underscored by a critical hamstring injury during a game against the Indiana Pacers that derailed the Knicks’ chances—make him a key asset.

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

Strategic Roster Adjustments for the Knicks

If retaining Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein necessitates significant roster changes, such as cutting Bojan Bogdanovic and trading the frequently injured Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks appear ready to proceed without hesitation. Bogdanovic faced multiple health issues towards the season’s end, highlighting the need for more durable players.

The Knicks might leverage their draft capital to compensate for any lost production. With Hartenstein having evolved from a backup to a starter last season, the team has shown its capability to cultivate talent that can deliver strong performances at a lower cost.

Anunoby Seeks Top Dollar

As free agency progresses, Anunoby’s primary interest lies in securing the best possible deal, making him open to all offers that meet his financial expectations.

The Knicks, recognizing the critical role Anunoby plays in their defensive lineup, are prepared to make the necessary financial accommodations to secure his return, emphasizing defense as a cornerstone of their team strategy.

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