Masai Ujiri played OG Anunoby trade sweepstakes perfectly after Knicks haul

Toronto lost their defensive dynamo, but Quickley and Barrett could become pivotal to the Raptors future.
Toronto Raptors Media Day
Toronto Raptors Media Day / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

In the first blockbuster trade of the season, the Toronto Raptors made a huge splash by shipping out their all-defensive forward OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn to the New York Knicks, in exchange for RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and a 2024 second-round pick via Detroit.

Barrett joins his hometown team, who despite being an inefficient scorer at times, is still only 23 years old and locked in on a team-friendly deal. As for Quickley, the Raptors received one of the league’s best backup guards (second in Sixth Man of the Year voting in 2022-23), who was thrust in the middle of guard log jams for New York this season.

On another bright note, Quickley is still only 24 years old and joins Barrett and Scottie Barnes as the new young core of this Raptors squad. No matter what happens with Pascal Siakam, it seems very likely that these two will be a part of the long-term plan.

As for Toronto, they part ways with OG Anunoby, who they drafted 23rd overall in 2017, won a championship with the Raptors in 2019 (despite being out with an injury), and has been an all-defensive force for many years. Masai Ujiri appears to have played this trade sweepstakes perfectly after years of criticism.

Toronto Raptors' Masai Ujiri played OG Anunoby trade situation perfectly.

The Raptors were unable to secure Anunoby to a long-term extension going into the season, as he was looking to sign a lucrative deal. It was also reported OG desired a bigger role with the Raptors, but given Barnes’ leap and Siakam remaining a skilled offensive player, it seemed difficult to have all three guys gel together in the offense.

As for Flynn, he did show some growth this season and even had faithful backing from Darko Rajakovic, but there were also many nights where Flynn made careless mistakes. The same goes for Precious Achiuwa, who opened the season against Minnesota with a very solid performance but turned out to largely be a negative asset as the season progressed.

The time was right for the Raptors to call it on these young pieces, and when you’re on the receiving end of the Knicks assets, it’s not a huge loss for Toronto to deal out Flynn and Achiuwa. How many more months were they going to try to make those two work?

It would’ve been frustrating if Toronto gave Malachi and Precious no time to grow, but despite many chances, they largely underperformed given their fair share of leeway and runtime.

It's too early to tell for sure, but Immanuel Quickley can grow to potential All-Star implications, and RJ Barrett isn't too shabby of a replacement for Anunoby. Just when Toronto's future was looking bleak, Raptors fans now have something to be hopeful about in 2024.