Rather than enter a new year facing the same old lineup fit questions and trade rumors, the Toronto Raptors sent forward OG Anunoby, center Precious Achiuwa and guard Malachi Flynn to the New York Knicks for guards RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley and a 2024 second-round pick, both teams announced Saturday.
Anunoby, 26, has been a constant subject of trade speculation for much of the past two seasons as Toronto explored whether the three-and-D forward could mesh with all-star forward Pascal Siakam and 2022 rookie of the year Scottie Barnes. The experiment never truly paid dividends: Despite their long and rangy defensive identity, the Raptors (12-19) rank 17th in offensive efficiency and face the prospect of missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons while also potentially losing Anunoby, who holds a $19.9 million player option for next season, in free agency this summer.
Meanwhile, the Knicks (17-14) are tracking toward another postseason trip, and Anunoby should fit Coach Tom Thibodeau’s vision of a hard-working and physical defense. The seventh-year forward earned all-defensive team honors last season, and he is averaging 15.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists while shooting 37.4 percent on three-pointers.
Achiuwa, 24, will provide frontcourt depth for the Knicks following starting center Mitchell Robinson’s season-ending ankle surgery. Flynn, a 2020 first-round pick, pencils in behind Jalen Brunson on the depth chart and could fill some of the minutes created by Quickley’s departure.
“OG’s complete offensive game and ability to defend multiple positions will enhance our team on both ends of the court,” Knicks President Leon Rose said in a statement. “Malachi and Precious are well-rounded players that will complement the hard-working and talented nature of our group.”
Toronto’s return package included two players who will play significant roles as the team seeks to craft a winning identity following its 2019 championship and the subsequent departures of Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Barrett, 23, is a Toronto native who was the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft and is averaging 18.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists. While Barrett hasn’t flashed all-star potential during his five-year career, he inked a long-term rookie contract extension in 2022 and is under contract through the 2026-27 season.
Quickley, 24, has a chance to blossom into the most important piece of this trade. The 2020 first-round pick was the sixth man of the year runner-up last season, and has made a strong case for the award again by averaging 15 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists this year.
The fourth-year guard will have a better opportunity to flash his scoring and playmaking ability in Toronto after his role was limited in New York playing behind Brunson, who is in the midst of an all-star breakthrough. Quickley will be a restricted free agent this summer, and the Raptors should be highly motivated to retain him after losing VanVleet to the Houston Rockets in free agency last summer.
“Immanuel is a young, talented playmaker who we believe will provide a spark on both ends of the court,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said in a statement. “RJ is a versatile wing who is, of course, well-known in his hometown, and seeing him in a Raptors uniform will be a special moment for our fans and for all Canadians.”
The Knicks and Raptors completed this trade despite being involved in an ongoing lawsuit in which New York alleged one of its former employees illegally provided confidential files to Toronto while being recruited by the Raptors for a job last summer.