July 21, 2024


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OG Anunoby becomes a free agent after Knicks contract cancelled

OG Anunoby becomes a free agent after Knicks contract cancelled

OG Anunoby has decided to opt out of his contract, but he could still opt to return to the Knicks.

Anunoby made the expected decision Monday before the deadline to forgo the final season of his four-year, $72 million contract and become an unrestricted free agent when the market opens at 6 p.m. Sunday, according to The Post’s Stefan Bondy, per sources.

The value of his player option was $19.9 million, but the average annual value of Anunoby’s upcoming contract is expected to exceed that limit after he showed his ability to handle New York’s pressure by averaging 14.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.5 assists. decisive over a period of time. 23 regular season games.

OG Anunoby will be an unrestricted free agent when the market opens on Sunday. Bill Streicher – USA Today Sports

The Knicks are expected to prioritize re-signing Anunoby, 26, to a long-term contract, but most of the leverage lies with one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA.

Working in the Knicks’ favor is that they own the Bird rights to the 6-foot-7 forward, meaning they could offer Anunoby a larger contract than any other team and go over the salary cap to do so.

If the Knicks somehow lose Anunoby, it would be a huge mistake given they knew the inherent risks of trading for a potential pending free agent and still dealt two impactful homegrown players — former first-round picks RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley — to the Raptors in December.

Barrett is under contract through 2026-27, while Quickley is a restricted free agent.

OG Anunoby’s injury played a role in the Knicks’ loss to the Pacers. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The trade worked wonders to elevate the Knicks, who were 26-6 in the regular season and playoffs when Anunoby was in the lineup to drain 3s at a 39.8 percent rate and guard all five positions as needed.

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But Anunoby’s injury history also followed him from Toronto and he missed 27 regular season games with an elbow injury as well as four postseason games before valiantly trying to come back from a hamstring injury as a shell of himself in a Game 7 loss to the Pacers during the semifinals. Eastern Province.

Anunoby is a top-tier defender. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Reports linking the 76ers and Anunoby to a huge contract could be a negotiating ploy, but if that pairing comes to fruition and bolsters a division contender, it will only exacerbate the Knicks’ mistake of trading for a half-season rental with no guarantees of time.

Knicks fans are excited about the core of the team that made the franchise’s most convincing playoff run since 2000 and are hoping Knicks president Leon Rose adds competing pieces — not takes away key ones.

The exception could be centers Isaiah Hartenstein (unrestricted free agent) and Mitchell Robinson, who has been linked to trade rumors as a way to relieve the salary cap.