Will Knicks fall short again to a contending team in O.G. Anunoby pursuit?

Julius Randle, OG Anunoby, New York Knicks
Nov 1, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) controls the ball against Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby (3) and guard Malachi Flynn (22) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are reportedly willing to give multiple first-round picks for O.G Anunoby. But missing in that The Athletic report and why Anunoby remains a Toronto Raptor is which first-round picks the Knicks are offering.

Perhaps it’s their collection of protected first-round picks from other teams.

If that’s the case, the Knicks may fall short once again in their bid with the Phoenix Suns poised to challenge them.

Like the Cleveland Cavaliers, who scooped up Donovan Mitchell from the Knicks last summer, the Suns have a much better roster when healthy. They have all their first-round picks plus more enticing trade assets such as Cam Johnson and the expiring contracts of Jae Crowder and Dario Saric.

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Anunoby doesn’t belong to Mitchell’s tier. Still, the Raptors wing is a quality two-way player who currently leads the league in steals (2.1 per game) and deflections (4 per game), and a deadshot from the corner 3 (44 percent) heading into his prime, which fits the Knicks’ timeline.

The 26-year-old Anunoby is just entering his prime on a team-friendly deal ($18.6 million next season with a $19.9 million player option in the 2023-24 season which he will certainly decline to hit free agency two summers from now).

The only wrinkle to trading for Anunoby is his durability and stunting Quentin Grimes’ development. He hasn’t played more than 68 games in a single season throughout his first five years in the league. He’s currently out for at least four games with a wrist injury.

It can also be noted that Raptors team president Masai Ujiri is as savvy as Utah Jazz leader Danny Ainge.

In Ujiri’s first move at the helm in Toronto was fleecing the Knicks in the now infamous Andrea Bargnani trade.

The Raptors received Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first-round pick, two second-round picks. The 2016 pick turned into Jakob Poeltl who Ujiri packaged with DeMar DeRozan for the Kawhi Leonard rental that netted the Raptors their first NBA championship.

At the past trade deadline, the Knicks’ new regime tried to outsmart the Raptors to no avail. A three-team trade that would have sent Cam Reddish and Alec Burks to the Los Angeles Lakers, Nerlens Noel, and Talen Horton-Tucker to the Raptors, and Goran Dragic plus picks (first-round selection from Raptors and a second-round pick from Lakers) to the Knicks fell through when New York sought additional draft compensation.

The Raptors instead sent Dragic and a protected 2022 first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for forward Thaddeus Young and Drew Eubanks, along with a 2022 second-round pick.

History isn’t on Knicks’ side. Will they finally flip the script this time?

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo