Latest news shows that Raptors may have absolutely dominated their blockbuster trade

The Toronto Raptors traded OG Anunoby last season and like their return, but the latest reporting suggests they may have absolutely dominated the trade.
OG Anunoby, New York Knicks
OG Anunoby, New York Knicks / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

After weeks and months and years of agonizing over whether or not the Toronto Raptors would trade any of their core players, the team finally pulled the trigger on a deal and sent OG Anunoby (along with Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn) to the New York Knicks on December 30th for a package of Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett and the Detroit Pistons' second-round pick.

At the time, the opinions of the deal were mixed. Many thought the Raptors were buying low on a future All-Star point guard in Immanuel Quickley, while others thought they were unnecessarily tying themselves to RJ Barrett and his contract. Most wondered why the Raptors didn't prioritize more draft capital.

The Raptors look like they won the trade

The early returns for Toronto have only made the deal look better from their point of view. Quickley had a great second half of the season for the Raptors, maintaining his efficiency despite a larger role. RJ Barrett had a career stretch in Toronto, turning his contract from an albatross to a reasonable deal. The second round pick landed at 31, literally the best that a second-round pick can be. When you factor in the new two-day draft format, the value of the 31st pick is at an all-time high.

The trade appeared to work out extremely well for the Knicks in the weeks after the trade. When OG Anunoby was playing the Knicks appeared to be unstoppable, with the league's best defense. He battled a couple of unique injuries, the final one during the playoffs when the Knicks desperately needed him, but his fit with the roster looked exemplary.

That fit, of course, only matters if Anunoby was on the Knicks. While he is a pending free agent, the expectation when the deal occurred was that he would sign a new deal with the franchise, especially since he is a CAA client. It appears that everyone may have been counting the chickens before they were hatched.

Disaster could strike the Knicks

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported on Tuesday that OG Anunoby is "not thrilled" with the contract being offered by the Knicks and "may want to test the market" in free agency. This would be a massive development for a Knicks team that can't simply replace Anunoby on the trade or free agent market.

In essence, if OG Anunoby walks in free agency it will be a disaster for New York. They could have reasonably given the Boston Celtics a real test in this year's playoffs if they had been healthy during the postseason, and the group they are poised to bring back next year may be the favorite for the No. 2 seed. Anunoby is a seamless fit around Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart and whoever starts at center, and he is versatile enough to play alongside Julius Randle or in place of him.

If Anunoby leaves, suddenly the Knicks' depth in the frontcourt begins to evaporate. They need Anunoby to take on the most difficult defensive assignments, specifically taking on opposing forwards like Jayson Tatum or Scottie Barnes. Without Anunoby, the Knicks are small and they are thin, and they will be over the cap and unable to meaningfully replace him if he walks for nothing.

Trading Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett and the No. 31 pick for three injury-riddled months of OG Anunoby would be a complete failure for the Knicks, and it makes the Raptors look like clear winners of the deal. Either the Knicks lose Anunoby, making Toronto winners in a landslide, or they are forced to pay through the nose for a player who doesn't create his own shot, something Toronto avoided by making the deal.

The ultimate coup de grace would be if the Raptors were able to court Anunoby to return to the team in free agency. They would need to decline Bruce Brown's contract and likely free up a little more cap space, but it would be possible. It's extremely unlikely, but it would be Vince Carter dunking on Frederic Weis if the Raptors sold OG to the Knicks and then stole him right back.

OG Anunoby is probably going to re-sign with the New York Knicks, albeit on a lucrative contract. Given the strong play of Quickley and Barrett, it seems like the Raptors probably won this trade. If OG Anunoby signs with the Philadelphia 76ers or Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency, it becomes a runaway success for Toronto. Either way, they are sitting pretty a few months after the blockbuster deal.

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