O.G. Anunoby may test free agency: Why Knicks should be worried about 76ers and Thunder offers | Sporting News Canada (2024)

O.G. Anunoby has proven to be invaluable for the Knicks. They were 20-3 in games that he played during the regular season and 6-3 in the playoffs. Signing him should be the team's No. 1 priority.

That would make it seem like negotiations will be wrapped up quickly this summer, but it may not be so simple. Anunoby is a great player, but he's probably not worth a maximum contract that would pay him $245 million over the next five years. There are teams out there who could decide it's worth it to overpay him, testing to see if the Knicks will blink.

Anunoby's former teammate, Pascal Siakam, is signing that max deal and there's little doubt that he remains in Indiana. But as Yahoo's Jake Fischer wrote,"There was word circling among team officials at last week’s NBA Draft Combine that Anunoby’s situation with the Knicks is not as cut and dried."

Here's why New York may be put in a tough position, and the options open to Anunoby.

MORE: Knicks free agents, future salaries, and draft picks in 2024

O.G. Anunoby extension, max contract options

Anunoby has a player option for $19.9 million, which opens up a couple of different options for him.

If he wants to sign an extension, he can do so for up to $117 million over four years, per SNY's Ian Begley. He has until June 30 to do so.

Anunoby is unlikely to take that path because he can make much more money by declining his player option, becoming an unrestricted free agent, and signing a completely new deal. In this scenario, the Knicks still have the inside track since they will have the ability to offer him a five-year contract rather than a four-year deal other teams could offer, plus his annual raises would be greater with the Knicks vs. other teams.

Looking at what similar wing players have earned over the past few years, a reasonable deal for Anunoby would start at around $35 million. With standard eight percent raises, that would put him at around $200 million over the next five years, which is a little short of his $245 million max.

READ: What makes O.G. Anunoby the league's best glue guy?

Possible O.G. Anunoby landing spots

Sixers

If the Knicks blanch at the thought of giving Anunoby his maximum deal, then there is a chance they could lose him. Given his injury history and the fact that he would be the third-best player on most teams, there is some number that they would probably have to let him go.

This is a very bad free agent class, and there are only six teams with projected cap space. The Sixers have $55 million to spend, per Spotrac. That would give them enough money to get to a maximum deal for Anunoby, who should be one of their top targets.

The Sixers have long dreamed of having a player like Anunoby. He would fit perfectly next to Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, and his old coach Nick Nurse would know exactly how to use him. Stealing him from the Knicks would also make a rival weaker. He would be a massive upgrade over what Tobias Harris gave them last season.

Philadelphia could offer Anunoby a four-year deal for up to $182 million. That would start him at around $42 million, which is well above the $35 million that the Knicks are expected to offer. Would that be enough to pry him away?

Thunder

The Thunder showed they are a good team that is a piece or two away from being great. They have a projected $35 million in cap space, which isn't quite enough to get past the Knicks into the Anunoby bidding. If they traded away either Lu Dort or Josh Giddey, then they could make the same offer as the Sixers.

Giddey is a likely trade target given how poorly he played during the playoffs and his awkward fit with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. It would be easy to shed his salary if they could get Anunoby to agree to a contract first.

Anunoby would help solve one of the major problems that the Thunder had during the playoffs. The Mavericks crowded the paint against Gilgeous-Alexander in part because of the lack of reliable shooters around him.

Anunoby would be an elite 3-and-D option to strengthen them even further, and he also wouldn't close the doors on future improvements. The Thunder would still retain their massive stash of draft picks and could make further trades down the line.

Knicks

Despite the interest in Anunoby from other teams, the Knicks should still be considered the favorites to hold onto Anunoby. They are the only team that can offer him a fifth year on his deal, giving him added security and more money. And they're a great team with real championship aspirations.

Overpaying Anunoby would give the Knicks a larger tax bill, but it wouldn't preclude them from bringing back Isaiah Hartenstein or making bigger moves down the line. The Knicks will have up to eight first-round picks to trade after the draft. That puts them in a power position in the East.

MORE: How the Knicks could trade for Mikal Bridges, complete Nova Knicks reunion

Injury is always a concern with Anunoby, given that he's averaged under 60 games played over his seven-year career. That could be the deciding factor that makes New York walk away from a mega-deal for their glue guy. If they are willing to pay whatever it takes though, then he should be back in New York.

O.G. Anunoby may test free agency: Why Knicks should be worried about 76ers and Thunder offers | Sporting News Canada (2024)
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