Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby may not be with the team for much longer, if what NBA insider Shams Charania is reporting turns out to be true.
“The Raptors are taking calls on O.G. Anunoby,” The Athletic reporter said Tuesday on FanDuel TV. “There’s the Knicks, they’re willing to give up multiple first-round picks for him, but another team that’s emerged the last week or so is the Phoenix Suns.
“They have the assets — eight first-round draft picks at their disposal between now and 2030 — so they’ve got the picks, and they’ve got players. They’ve got guys like Cam Johnson, they’ve got guys on expiring contracts like Dario Saric, Jae Crowder that can kind of replenish your bench.”
Despite Anunoby’s best efforts to block out the noise, there's something to the old adage about where there's smoke there's fire.
And while there doesn’t appear to be anything imminent yet, you can never say never. So, let’s take a look at how Anunoby would fit in with these three clubs and what they could offer the Raptors in return.
Anunoby’s fit with the Grizzlies is obvious. The toughness and physicality he brings – especially on the defensive end – plays well with Memphis’s rough-and-tumble identity and he would immediately slot in as one of the better 3-point shooters on the team.
Given the down year Dillon Brooks is having, Anunoby could possibly slot in seamlessly as Memphis’s new starting small forward or, with Steven Adams still out, he could even start at the four, moving Jaren Jackson Jr. to centre so Brandon Clarke can return to his usual energizer role off the bench.
Regardless of where he plays, Ja Morant will surely enjoy having another weapon he can kick the ball out to – particularly in the corner – while head coach Taylor Jenkins will have no shortage of ways to use him on the defensive end.
From a Raptors perspective, making a trade with the Grizzlies would have to begin with trying to pry one or maybe even two of the Grizzlies' talented young players with the dream being someone like Desmond Bane or Tyus Jones.
Acquiring one of those two seems more like a pipe dream, so settling for Ziaire Williams, who would be buried behind the likes Anunoby and Brooks on the depth chart anyway, coupled with Danny Green’s contract seems like a more realistic start to a negotiation.
The other part of any trade talks with Memphis would have to involve at least two or three of the Grizzlies’ future first-round picks.
Memphis has all of its first-rounders at its disposal and given the odds that these are going to be picks that will be in the mid-to-late 20s, Toronto should be demanding quite a few of them, preferably without many protections.
The real prize in a transaction with the Grizzlies would be to land a player like Williams, but if the Raptors are trading Anunoby it's a sign they’re looking to scale back and rebuild, so having extra draft capital to help with that is never a bad thing.
New York Knicks
Like Memphis, Anunoby’s arrival in New York would solve a 3-point shooting problem the Knicks currently have and his natural defensive abilities would make him an instant favourite with Tom Thibodeau.
There might be some struggles finding ways to make him fit with New York’s roster as he would likely be taking time away from RJ Barrett, whom the Knicks recently committed to long-term at a big price. It also makes no sense for Anunoby to be playing behind Julius Randle.
Unless Thibodeau gets really comfortable playing small with Anunoby at the five or he’s fine with having Quentin Grimes come off the bench, there could be some problems fitting Anunoby in. And as a trade partner, making an attractive offer for Toronto also seems difficult for New York.
Sure, New York does have Detroit, Washington and Dallas’s first-round picks this year to offer, but they’re all protected like crazy, meaning their actual value is relatively low.
Outside of that, New York’s first-round picks don’t appear to be all that valuable right now seeing as they look like a playoff team and of the young pieces the Knicks have, there isn’t really a guy who stands out that would be attainable other than Grimes or Obi Toppin – who aren’t exactly the most enticing pieces to replace Anunoby with.
Anunoby’s arrival in Phoenix would shore up a hole the Suns currently have in their starting lineup with Torrey Craig and Johnson currently slotting in as one of the starting forwards.
With Crowder refusing to play until he gets traded, Anunoby looks like a logical replacement who will likely feel like an upgrade.
Phoenix is a good, well-balanced team and Anunoby’s skills would only enhance what it can already do well.
As a landing spot, Anunoby could certainly do worse than to play with a surefire Hall of Famer in Chris Paul, and the combination of him and Mikal Bridges could form one of the most devastating perimeter defensive duos in the game today.
Looking at what Toronto could get back in return, the expiring contracts of players like Crowder, Saric and Johnson do look attractive as they would allow the Raptors to clear up cap space and make a run at someone in free agency, but that might be a fallacy because this isn’t exactly a world-beating free agent class. Acquiring a good player like Johnson, who’s just entering his prime, may not be a bad idea as the Raptors could lock him in as a core piece of their future.
Still, doing business with the Suns means picks will have to be involved and while it’s true Phoenix has all of its firsts and seconds available, you have to wonder just how valuable these picks are going to be. As long as the Suns have Devin Booker on their roster, their championship window will remain open, so multiple first-round picks from them isn’t exactly the most attractive proposition.
Other fits: Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder
Anunoby is among the best defenders in the NBA, capable of guarding all five positions, and is among the best shooters in the world from the corners, connecting on 44.4 percent of his looks from those spots this season.
These two traits make him a strong fit on just about every basketball team on the planet. With that said, there are some circumstances that would work better than others for both Anunoby and the Raptors.
The Mavericks would be a fantastic fit for Anunoby, as surrounding Luka Doncic with more shooting and defence is never a bad thing. The picks coming back from Dallas wouldn’t be anything to write home about but getting someone like promising third-year guard Josh Green and the expiring contract of Christian Wood could be interesting.
Another team that could be a logical fit is the Trail Blazers. There was a lot of reported interest from Portland around the draft last year and re-visiting a transaction centred around rookie Canadian high-flyer Shaedon Sharpe and maybe someone like Josh Hart could be intriguing.
One final team worth mentioning is the Thunder. Sam Presti has accumulated a war chest to the tune of 19 additional first- and second-round picks between now and the 2028 drafts. He isn’t going to use all of those picks to draft players and given the superstar turn Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is taking, coupled with the fact the Thunder are right in the mix for the play-in tournament and more, why not cash some of those chips in and try to make a real run of things by actually upgrading the roster?
Anunoby would instantly make the Thunder better and they have plenty of intriguing young players — like Aleksej Pokusevski — to go along with the many picks they could throw into a trade.
Essentially, Anunoby can work with any team in the league. That’s significant leverage the Raptors can’t give up on.
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