By The Canadian Press on December 30, 2023.
TORONTO – The Toronto Raptors have overhauled their roster, making a deal with a divisional and legal rival.
Toronto traded forwards OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa along with guard Malachi Flynn to the New York Knicks on Saturday for guard Immanuel Quickley, Canadian swingman RJ Barrett and a second-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. Raptors vice-chairman and president Masai Ujiri said that he was excited about adding Quickley and Barrett to his roster.
“Immanuel is a young, talented playmaker who we believe will provide a spark on both ends of the court,” Ujiri said in a release. “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 gave up two of their top offensive players in Barrett, from Mississauga, Ont., and Quickley, one of the NBA’s top reserves. But the deal should provide a needed boost to New York’s defence, with Anunoby leading the league in steals last season.
“It’s never easy to say goodbye, especially when players like OG and Malachi have spent their careers with our team,” said Ujiri. “We wish Precious, Malachi and OG all the best.”
The deal left both teams short-handed for their games Saturday night. The Raptors were in Detroit, where the Pistons were trying to avoid an NBA-record 29th consecutive loss, while the Knicks were in Indiana.
Toronto (12-19) entered play Saturday tied for 11th place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings. The Knicks were in seventh place at 17-14.
Anunoby, considered one of the best one-on-one defenders in the NBA, figures to step right into Barrett’s spot in the Knicks’ starting lineup.
The six-foot-seven swingman is averaging 15.1 points and had his highest-scoring game of the season when the Raptors visited the Knicks on Dec. 11, scoring 29 points.
Barrett averages 18.2 points but has struggled lately with his outside shot, going 2 for 12 from three-point range over the last two games. The No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft helped the Knicks reach the playoffs twice in the last three seasons after missing them the previous seven.
Barrett was also one of the anchors for a Canadian team that won a bronze medal at the FIBA World Cup in September. It was the first-ever World Cup medal for Canada, which also earned a berth at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Quickley was the runner-up for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season, but there has been speculation he could be moved since the Knicks declined to give him a contract extension before this season.
They will have to replace his 15 points per game off the bench and ability to play both guard positions.
Achiuwa and Flynn have come off the bench for Toronto this season. Achiuwa has averaged 7.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game while Flynn has averaged 5.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
The second-round pick comes via Detroit. The Pistons have only two wins so far this season and are in the midst of a 28-game losing skid, so it should be a high selection.
Until Saturday’s deal, Toronto did not have any picks in the 2024 draft. It had traded a lottery-protected first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for centre Jakob Poeltl at last season’s trade deadline. Its second-rounder has already been dealt.
The Knicks and Raptors made for unlikely trading partners as they are currently locked in litigation with each other.
New York filed a lawsuit against Toronto four months ago, alleging the Raptors had conspired to steal thousands of videos and other scouting secrets after hiring a former New York scouting employee.
In October, the Raptors’ owners, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, filed a motion in New York’s Southern District for the lawsuit to be dismissed. MLSE filed the legal documents on behalf of the NBA club, head coach Darko Rajakovic and 12 other individual defendants.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2023.
With files from The Associated Press.