Knicks think they have enough trade capital left after OG Anunoby move to make significant deal

What grade do you give the Knicks for the OG Anunoby trade?

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton gave New York an A-. The Knicks earned the same mark from CBS Sports. Bleacher Report? B+ for New York.

Grading NBA trades is a fun exercise. It can also be informative (Pelton’s analysis was chock full of valuable details, as it always is).

But trade grades often change over time. This Knicks-Raptors trade won’t have a legitimate winner or loser until at least the offseason, once we know how each team performed over the course of the season and whether the teams can re-sign their acquisitions (Knicks, Anunoby’ Raptors, Immanuel Quickley).

But if you prefer an instant reaction, the trade for OG has to be an A at this point.

Anunoby had a tremendous game in his Knicks debut. He finished with 17 points (3-for-6 on threes), six rebounds (three offensive) and two steals. The Knicks outscored Minnesota by 19 in Anunoby’s 35 minutes. That plus-19 might have been even higher if Anunoby hadn’t fouled out with around 4:30 to play in the fourth quarter. To that point, Anunoby had played strong defense against Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards, found easy baskets on cuts and helped put New York in great position to win.

“Seems like the perfect piece,” Julius Randle said of Anunoby after Randle scored eight points in the final two minutes to seal New York’s win.

Yes, Anunoby’s fingerprints were all over the Knicks’ win on New Year’s Day.

His presence alone spaced the floor and opened up cutting/passing lanes. As The Strickland notes, New York’s potential assists on Monday (50) were 25 percent higher than usual. As The Athletic’s Fred Katz (aka Freddie Stats) noted, Anunoby found success on cuts and generally fit in seamlessly in his debut.

That’s why the Knicks get an A after Day 1 of the Anunoby era. The final grade, I’d say, is based heavily on their next transaction.


To acquire Anunoby, the Knicks sent out RJ Barrett, Quickley and a valuable 2024 second-round pick that belongs to the Detroit Pistons. Some fans/media (myself included) suggested after the trade that the Knicks no longer had the trade capital to swing a big deal.

Some in the organization disagree with that idea. They feel like they have enough left to land a top player.

New York has eight tradable first-round picks, including four of its own. The four picks from other teams are protected. Some have significant protections.

As far as players, Evan Fournier (expiring $18 million deal), Randle, Quentin Grimes, Donte DiVincenzo, Mitchell Robinson, Jericho Sims and Isaiah Hartenstein are all trade-eligible. Josh Hart and Miles McBride cannot be traded prior to the 2024 deadline.

Reasonable people can disagree over the value of New York’s assets, but there are people in the organization who feel like they have enough to bring in another significant player.

On Tuesday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania noted that the Knicks will always have interest in Karl-Anthony Towns. That’s true today, just as it was true on the day Knicks team president Leon Rose took over.

Rose is Towns’ former agent. He and Knicks executive vice president William Wesley are close with Towns and his family. Knicks senior vice president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas ran the Timberwolves during Towns’ tenure.

Obviously, Minnesota has to be willing to trade Towns. I believe the Knicks could have traded for Towns in the 2023 offseason. But the Timberwolves won’t be trading Towns this season; entering play Tuesday, they had the NBA’s second-best record. Towns’ play (21 points, shooting 40 percent from three, nine rebounds and three assists per game) has been a major factor.

But Minnesota will incur a stiff luxury tax bill once it signs Edwards to an extension. The Timberwolves have committed big money to Towns, Rudy Gobert and Jaden McDaniels.

Will co-owner Alex Rodriguez be willing to spend George Steinbrenner/Steve Cohen money to keep the Minnesota roster intact? That remains to be seen. As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski explains, the Knicks are well-positioned to make a deal with a team looking to avoid punitive luxury tax bills.

But that’s not something Minnesota has to deal with during the season. So there’s no point in talking about any Towns trade at the moment.

(Same goes for Atlanta's Dejounte Murray.)

The larger point here is that, even after the Anunoby trade, some Knicks people think they have enough trade capital to make a significant deal.


One thing worth talking about right now is the Knicks’ rotation. It may change significantly with Anunoby on the roster. Katz detailed the shift in Anunoby’s debut, which included stretches where Jalen Brunson or Randle played with reserves. It worked very well. (Robert Randolph is right so far.)

But the bench scoring bears watching. After the Knicks’ playoff loss to the Heat, one of the bigger internal concerns was bench scoring, as Miami's second-unit dominated the series.

Now, the Knicks will move forward without their best bench scorer in Quickley. In the wake of the Anunoby trade, some players/coaches noted the potentially seismic loss of Quickley’s bench scoring. The reserve units were great against Minnesota.

So was Hartenstein. He had three assists, three steals, three blocks (two on Gobert) and nine rebounds (five offensive) in the win.

He’s been arguably the most valuable Knick since Robinson’s injury.

After the win, head coach Tom Thibodeau said he may use Hartenstein more as a facilitator in the Knick offense.

“They were blitzing in a situation tonight and even though he was the weakside guy, I want him flashing to the middle,” Thibodeau said on Monday. “So we can play off that. And then it allows Julius to space to the corner. Now we can hit him and now it’s a long close-out.

"So just playing, use his instincts, I want him running the floor. Then he can always, after he runs the floor, come flash back up to the elbow and I want us to trigger action."

He continued: “When we trigger action, when he gets the ball at the elbow if there’s a cut and there’s a replace, maybe we get the cut, maybe we get the replace. But it’s hard to script for those actions. Dribble at the corner, overplay, we get the backdoor. And he’s got a good feel for that, so I want to add that to the mix as well.

"It’s something that we’ve done but I think we probably could do it a little bit more, particularly with the second group.”