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Knicks Move On From Barrett, Quickley, Add Anunoby

This past Saturday, the Knicks made a franchise altering move by sending RJ Barret, Immanuel Quickley, and a second round draft pick to the Raptors in exchange for OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn and Precious Achiuwa.

For New York, they have been connected to Anunoby since the trade deadline this past season. His defensive ability on the wing is something the Knicks have been missing, and New York decided now was the right time to make this move.

Knicks End The Barrett And Quickley Era

When Barrett was drafted to the Knicks in 2019, he was supposed to be the franchise guy for the foreseeable future in New York. Although he had shown some flashes in his five seasons in New York, he was never able to take the next step up to that of a star player. Instead, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle solidified themselves as the main pieces on the team, and Barrett never became truly effective as the third option.

The Knicks needed Barrett to improve his catch and shoot ability, and defense to fit alongside Brunson and Randle. Rather, his efficiency never improved as this season he was shooting only 33.1 percent from three. While Barrett has shown himself to be a solid defender, the top defensive assignment would usually be assigned to Grimes or DiVincenzo.

This lack of progression from Barrett made it more and more clear that it was time for a change for both sides. With Toronto, Barrett will have more freedom offensively. For New York, they get the player they needed Barrett to become in Anunoby. To get that player though, it would cost a beloved and incredibly important player for the Knicks in Immanuel Quickley.

Up until the trade, Quickley had been playing the best basketball of his entire career for New York. He was averaging a career high in points per game, field goal percentage and three point percentage. Quickley provided some of the best bench production in the entire league, and gave the Knicks a much needed scoring punch off the bench.

For Quickley however, he was due to be a free agent this upcoming offseason, and all reports indicate that New York and Quickley were not close on an extension. This seems to have played a role in the Knicks willingness to throw him in this trade, as the loss of Quickley will be difficult to replace.

How Much Better Does Anunoby Make The Knicks?

To get a player the caliber of Anunoby, it is not surprising that it did take Barrett and Quickley to get moved. Anunoby provides for the Knicks exactly what they have been missing at the small forward position: a high caliber 3 and D type of player.

The starting lineup improves tremendously with this move. Anunoby fits in far better with the likes of Brunson and Randle as compared to Barrett. He is shooting a very solid 37.9 percent from three this season, and his catch and shoot ability allows him to space the floor very well.

In his first game as a Knick against the top seeded Timberwolves, Anunoby went 3-6 from three and all three of those makes came from the corner. That threat from the corner will allow much more space for Brunson and Randle to operate, and make offense much easier for both of them.

In total, Anunoby had 17 points, six rebounds, and two steals in his Knicks debut. He was also a team high +19 which speaks to how much better he makes this team defensively. Especially with Mitchell Robinson still out, Anunoby will make a big impact now and even more when Robinson is back.

The biggest question mark from this trade is how the Knicks will replace Quickley's offensive production from the bench. It seems that Deuce McBride will get more minutes off the bench now, but he is nowhere near the scorer that Quickley is.

For now, Thibodeau will most likely have to stagger the minutes between Brunson and Randle to make sure one of the two is on the court at all times. Looking into the future though, it seems likely that New York is not done making trades this season.

The Knicks were able to keep all of their first round picks when trading for Anunoby, so there are still plenty of assets to be moved. Evan Fournier's contract provides an asset in terms of matching contracts in a potential trade, so a trade can very easily be maneuvered to fill that hole that is left from Quickley.

Anunoby will certainly make an enormous impact on this starting lineup for the rest of this season. It will be interesting to see how the Knicks continue to add to this roster, as one more move could really elevate the Knicks chances of contending this year and beyond.